45th annual National Menorah lighting ceremony brings Jewish community together

WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — It was a festive afternoon at the Ellipse, just south of the White House.

That’s where the 45th annual National Menorah lighting ceremony took place, celebrating the first night of Hanukkah.

As the menorah was lit, the Jewish community in D.C. reflected on the meaning of Hanukkah.

“Overcoming darkness with light and bringing light to the world,” Evan Albert described the ceremony.

It was a time to share with family.

First night of Hanukkah celebration begins at sundown

“Tonight was really fun. Really cool. First night of Hanukkah so we wanted to go out and give Alice her first Hanukkah,” Jake Valdick said.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch Chabad, organized the event, saying it’s important to come together as a rise in antisemitism happens amid the war between Hamas and Israel.

“A cornerstone of the Jewish faith is that the world is ultimately run by God and even though we see many things, especially in these times that we don’t let them make us sad that shatter our peace,” he said. “We have to know that ultimately we will find the strength to overcome it.”

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff echoed that sentiment.

“Even as we face what feels like such empty darkness right now, I am hopeful,” Emhoff said. “Look at this story of Hanukkah. The story of Hanukkah and the story of Jewish people has always been one of hope and resilience.”

After the menorah was lit, people got a chance to eat latkes, or potato pancakes, as well as traditional jelly-filled doughnuts.

“When people see Jews and Judaism and celebrating our religion, I want them to understand that we’re a peaceful religion,” Albert said. “It’s all about spirituality and just coming closer to our creator and just sharing love with the world.”

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