The National Chanukah Menorah will be illuminated during a special ceremony on The Ellipse in front of the White House on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 that starts at 4:00 pm, the first night of Chanukah. Thousands of people are expected to attend.
This annual event is sponsored by American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad).
This year’s event will feature a special musical performance by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and world-renowned cantor Maestro Itche Meir Helfgot with Hankus Netsky.
Chanukah commemorates the victory by the Jewish Maccabean army against Assyrian-Greek oppression in the year 165 BCE (almost 2200 years ago). This festival is the time Jews around the world celebrate religious freedom, and The Ellipse has become the traditional place for this national event.
Prominent dignitaries including the president, have attended in these celebrations since President Jimmy Carter attended the first lighting of the National Chanukah Menorah in 1979. President Ronald Reagan dubbed the huge candelabra the “National Menorah.”
COLlive.com has learned that the Menorah will be lit this year by Jack Lew, Director of the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) who is the most senior Jewish official in the Obama administration.
“We are always delighted to celebrate Chanukah in this prominent space, particularly in such close proximity to Thanksgiving when we are reminded how the first settlers in this country, most of whom were not Jewish, established our nation as a bastion of religious freedom,” said Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Director of American Friends of Lubavitch, which sponsors the event privately through its National Menorah Council.
Following the ceremony, those in attendance will be treated to hot traditional Chanukah latkes and donuts. Free personal menorah kits and dreidels will also be distributed at the event.
The United States Navy Band with Jeff Nadel and The Three Cantors, will perform special Chanukah selections. Dreidelman and The Maccabees will also be on-hand.
For the general public, tickets, which are free, are required and are available by calling (202) 332-5600 or online at NationalMenorah.org.