Menorah From Sandy-Hit Shul Lights White House

Long Island Synagogue Badly Battered by Hurricane

Light of Hope: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as the White House menorah is lit.
getty images
Light of Hope: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as the White House menorah is lit.

By JTA

Published December 15, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

It has become something of a White House Chanukah tradition.

For the second time, the Obama White House used a menorah from a hurricane-hit region to mark the holiday.

This Chanukah, Rabbi David Bauman brought to the White House one of two 90-year-old menorahs that survived when Hurricane Sandy ravaged Temple Israel in Long Beach, N.Y. The menorah used in 2010 at the White House was from a New Orleans synagogue hit by Hurricane Katrina.

“This 90-year-old menorah survived, and I am willing to bet it will survive another 90 years, and another 90 years after that,” Obama said before the lighting of the candles Thursday night at the White House Chanukah party. “So tonight, it shines as a symbol of perseverance, and as a reminder of those who are still recovering from Sandy’s destruction – a reminder of resilience and hope and the fact that we will be there for them as they recover.”

Jarrod Bernstein, the White House’s 32-year-old director of Jewish outreach, was behind the choice of candelabra. He told JTA that Jewish organizational efforts to help rebuild communities – Jewish and non-Jewish – hit by Sandy fit perfectly with President Obama’s emphasis on getting relief to the Northeast in the storm’s wake.

“Having a menorah with meaning allows us to embody the best spirit of Jewish experience, in the middle of what is a national challenge,” Bernstein said. “There is a Jewish dimension to this – the American Jewish community is ‘working to make this a more perfect union’ as the president often calls it.”

Bernstein described his “aha” moment during a drive to visit family in New York, where he served for years as a community outreach official for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He had been agonizing about what would serve as the most potent symbol joining the holiday with Obama administration policy.

His wife, Hildy Kuryk – who also happens to be the Democratic National Committee’s finance director – suggested a menorah from one of the many New York-area synagogues hit by Sandy.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.