White House Uses Holocaust Era Menorahs at Hanukkah Party

Thanksgivukkah and Menurkey Got Shout Outs Too

getty images

By JTA

Published December 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Two menorahs with Holocaust era associations were used at White House Hanukkah receptions, and “Thanksgivukkah” and the “menurkey” got mentions as well.

President Obama for the first time hosted two Hanukkah parties on Thursday – the last day of the holiday, and technically after the final menorah lighting time – because of the overflow.

The first session, in the afternoon, featured a menorah designed by Manfred Anson, who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 for Australia and joined his sister in New York in 1963.

He became a collector of Americana and in 1986, on the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, he designed a menorah made up of statuettes modeled on the statue.

Lighting a menorah cast from Anson’s original mold was the family of Jacob Schmitter, who is deployed in Afghanistan.

The menorah used at the evening reception is from the former Czechoslovakia. Abraham and Hayyah Ettinger donated it to their synagogue, in Hrušov, in 1922; the Ettingers are known to have perished in the Holocaust.

Lighting this menorah were survivors of the Holocaust from the former Czechoslovakia, Margit Meissner and Martin Weiss.

At the evening ceremony, Obama noted the passing, just reported, of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, and also pledged to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“Together with our Israeli friends, we’re determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he said, referring to talks underway between Iran and the major powers to roll back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“Building a future of security and peace is not easy,” Obama said. “But the story of Hanukkah, of survivors like Margit and Martin — leaders like Nelson Mandela — remind us that those who came before us overcame even greater obstacles than those that we face. So let’s take strength from their struggles and from their sacrifice. Let’s give thanks for miracles large and small.”

A “menurkey” – a menorah in the shape of a turkey – featured at both receptions, and its creator, 10-year-old Asher Weintraub of New York City, was a guest at the first reception, as was Dana Gitell, the Boston mom who coined the term “Thanksgivukkah” and who trademarked it.

This year, the first night of Hanukkah fell on the evening before Thanksgiving, which Obama noted in his remarks at the first reception while giving a shout-out to Weintraub and Gitell.

“They’ve had a lot of fun with their project,” Obama said. “But there is a serious side to it because they’ve said they always express their gratitude to America, a place where no matter who you are, you can always celebrate your faith.”


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!
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • 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.