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December 23, 2019 11:06 am

Lighting of National Menorah Marks 40 Years of Publicly Observing Hanukkah in DC

avatar by JNS.org

US Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (center) helps light the shamash (“helper candle”) of the National Menorah on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, DC, on Dec. 22, 2019, assisted by Rabbi Levi Shemtov (left), executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), and his father, Abraham Shemtov. Photo: Screenshot.

JNS.org – US Interior Secretary David Bernhardt helped light the National Menorah on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, DC, on Sunday—the first night of Hanukkah, as Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) commemorated the 40th year of the program that has been made possible by the secretary’s department.

“We’re honored, of course, to have with us, Cabinet-level presentation every year,” said Shemtov prior to the lighting. “This year it is in the form of the one who is charged with overseeing national parks across the country, the beautiful parts of our land, including this Ellipse.”

Often, the lighting of the menorah is done by a Jewish member of the current administration, typically a member of the president’s Cabinet. Bernhardt, who is not Jewish, lit the shamash, the “helper candle.”

“I think we wouldn’t have had that wonderful story 40 years ago of a decline of the application if Secretary Bernhardt were in office at the time,” said Shemtov. “But it was what it was.”

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