In honor of the annual White House Hanukkah celebration, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of American Friends of Lubavitch, kashered the White House kitchen. Shemtov – with the help of the White House kitchen staff and Chef Tommy Kurpradit, prepared the White House to host 550 guests for the annual celebration.
The first conducted by President George W. Bush in 2001.
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, members of the House of Representantives and Senate, Supreme Court Justices, rabbis, artists, astronauts, members of the military, Democratic activists and donors gathered in anticipation of Hanukkah at the White House on December 8, enjoying traditional foods such as latkes, jelly doughnuts and smoked salmon as well as new Jewish favorites such as sushi.
Guests were treated to a jazz rendition of “Rock of Ages” and a musical tribute to Jewish-American Composers by the U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra and lit a Chanukah menorah – a little early – which had been salvaged from a synagogue ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
President Jimmy Carter was the first to recognize Hanukkah, when he lit the National Menorah in Lafayette Park erected by Chabad-Lubavitch. The first Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the White House was conducted by President William J. Clinton.