Over 3,000 people watched the lighting of the National Menorah on Sunday, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington DC.
The sold-out annual event, now a favorite holiday tradition among the community and elite of Washington, is a high security event, free of charge, but accessible only to ticket holders. The event garners extensive media attention every year, bringing the message of the miracle of Chanukah to millions worldwide. This year coverage included the networks ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN (live) local stations, WPost, Times, and the Associated Press. It was featured on page 3 of USA Today, and was seen on the national morning news program The TODAY Show.
The event is a grand production, organized by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Shliach to Washington DC and Director of American Friends of Lubavitch.
This year Rabbi and Mrs. Nachman Holtzberg, parents of Gavriel Holtzberg, HY”D, attended as special guests and received a Chanukah medal in honor of their son who was murdered by terrorists last month in their Chabad center of Mumbai.
White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten was honored with lighting the Menorah, he was lifted by cherry-picker along with National Director of American Friends of Lubavitch Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, Rabbi Levi Shemtov and Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg.
Winners of an essay contest on the topic “What Chanukah Means to Me,” were Chaya Sherman, 4th Grade, Cheder Chabad Philadelphia and Chaya Mushka Turk, Seymour J. Abrams Cheder Lubavitch in Skokie, Illinois. The girls, who flew in to Washington with their parents for the occasion, read their essays aloud.
The crowd enjoyed musical performances by Pershings’s Own US Army Band and the Three Cantors. As every year, a most anticipated highlight was the appearance by ‘Dreidelman.’
After the lighting hot latkes and doughnuts were served in a large tent.