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Hanukah Reflections from President Barack Obama and Georgetown Synagogue

As the festival of lights begins, President Obama reflects on the holiday's meaning and Kesher Israel hosts celebrations.

Though President Barack Obama issued an official statement about Hanukah, the Jewish holiday that begins Tuesday at sundown, it is not a Jewish high holiday. Jewish neighbors at Georgetown's Kesher Israel will be celebrating with community events and a mitzvah project for kids, which are more light-hearted and less formal than those for Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanna.

Rabbi Freundel from Kesher Israel on N Street shared a Wall Street Journal story by Jon Levenson with his congregation Tuesday. In it Levenson describes Hanukah as "one of the better known of the Jewish holidays but also one of the less important." The holiday, he says, allows Jews to share in the festive season surrounding their Christians neighbors' celebrations at Christmas.

The story of Hanukah, Levenson writes, is less about freedom and more about believers holding steadfast to their teachings, refusing to allow the temple to be impacted by non-traditionalist leanings. The battle for the temple, that left them with oil that should have lasted only one day, was fought for their traditions and culture.

Rabbi Freundel shares this link and tells his congregation, "It is something to think about as we celebrate the holiday."

In his message to Jews during the festival of lights, President Obama reflects more on the hopefulness of the story of Hanukah—the oil that last eight days instead of one:

"It’s a timeless story of right over might and faith over doubt – one that has given hope to Jewish people everywhere for over 2,000 years. And tonight, as families and friends come together to light the menorah, it is a story that reminds us to count our blessings, to honor the sacrifices of our ancestors, and to believe that through faith and determination, we can work together to build a brighter, better world for generations to come."

Whatever message you want to reflect on this holiday season, whether it is steadfast commitment to traditions or the hope for a brighter future, Kesher Israel welcomes the D.C. community to share in its Hanukah celebrations:

Hanukah Dinner, Learning & Fun: Come celebrate Hanukah with Kesher on Wednesday, Dec. 21 from 7:30-9 pm in the shul. Kesher Israel invites the D.C. community to a Hanukah Celebration, Dinner, Learning & Fun! The event will include a short shiur given by Rabbi Freundel. There is no charge to attend, but please RSVP by Sunday, December 18 at Hanukah Party or call the shul office.  We hope you can join us for this exciting event.

Kesher Kids Hanukah Mitzvah Party
Join the Kesher Kids on Sunday, Dec. 25 from 5-6:30pm as we share the light! This Hanukah we'll make gifts and cards for sick kids at Children's Hospital. After we're done with our mitzvah project, we'll enjoy pizza, latkes and sufganiyot! RSVP to children@kesher.org by December 20 for FREE admission. $5 per family at the door.

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