Trump’s White House Hanukkah Party Highlights
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump watch as U.S. Army LTC Rabbi Shmuel Felzenberg lights the Menorah during a Hanukkah reception, Dec. 6, 2018, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
WHITE HOUSE SCENE — President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted their second annual White House Hanukkah party yesterday, which was split into two events, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. U.S. Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Rabbi Shmuel Felzenberg and Rabbi Avraham Friedman of Chabad-Lubavitch of Parkland respectively led the menorah lighting ceremonies.
At the first event, Trump was joined on stage by Vice President Mike Pence, whom he called “a tremendous supporter of yours.” Pence, in turn, remarked: “It is the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to the most pro-Israel President in American history.” The President also invited eight Holocaust survivors, who thanked him for expelling Jakiw Palij, America’s last known Nazi concentration camp guard, to Germany in the summer. “You honor us, truly, with your presence, and you inspire us with your courage,” Trump said. “Today and every day, we renew our solemn pledge: Never Again. Right? Never again.”
Marking the first anniversary of his announcement to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump marveled at his ability to deliver on a promise other presidents haven’t kept, at a lower cost than expected. “You know that story, right?” he asked rhetorically, retelling the story about saving almost a billion dollars on building a new embassy with “expensive” Jerusalem stone. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful embassy. And it’s an honor to do it for all of the people in the room,” Trump remarked. The estimated cost of the embassy relocation was also reduced within hours, going down to $180,000 from an estimated $200,000 during the afternoon event.
Trump also reaffirmed his commitment to fighting “anti-Semitism everywhere it occurs.” And while acknowledging his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump said he was “so proud to have you, Jared, in our family with all of his relatives and all of our friends. We are proud of him. I’m very proud of Jared.” [CSPAN; CSPAN]
At times, the events sounded more like Trump rallies than holiday parties. At the afternoon event, the crowd erupted, chanting “
From the White House pool report: “Trump recalled the story of Judah Maccabee and the lamp he lit that “burned for eight nights” rather than the one he expected under duress. POTUS said the Jewish people have “endured, overcome and thrived” despite a long history of “hardships” and “terrible violence.” “Thrived like few, that I can tell you,” POTUS said. “Thrived.” … POTUS applauded the Jewish people for building Israel into a “mighty and majestic nation.” He then pledged his administration would always stand beside Israel. That, and what was perceived as tepid applause, led one of the gentlemen called onstage by Trump to shout from over his left shoulder, “Let’s hear it, everybody. Go! C’mon!” as he encouraged them to cheer louder. The crowd obliged as POTUS smiled.”
HOW IT PLAYED — President and First Lady put on an unusually loved-up display at White House ceremonies as they celebrate with Holocaust survivors [DailyMail]
MAN OF THE HOUR — Jake Tapper tweets: “Spotted at the WH Hanukkah party in the East Room this evening: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the professional embodiment of one day’s worth of oil that has surprisingly lasted eight days. Happy Hanukkah.”
Trump acknowledged and thanked Rosenstein at the beginning of his remarks, mistakenly referring to him as “Attorney General” Rod Rosenstein: “Where is Rod? Rod, where are you?” Trump said trying to locate him. When noticed among the crowd, Trump quipped, “He’s entitled to a much better location than that.” [CSPAN]
Spotted among the 600+ attendees: Senator Roy Blunt, Reps. Lee Zeldin, David Kustoff, Ted Deutch, Josh Gottheimer and Jared Polis; Jared Kushner, Justice Stephen Breyer, Elliott Abrams, Rudy Giuliani, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Seryl and Charles Kushner, Ambassador Ron Dermer, Matt Brooks, Dawn Arnall, Ben Shapiro, Joe Kristol, Abbe Lowell, Safra Catz, Cliff May, Mark Isakowitz, Ken Weinstein, Jason Greenblatt, Paul Teller, Avi Berkowitz, Stephen Miller, Norman Brownstein, Heather Nauert, Eli Miller, Larry Mizel, Marc Kasowitz, Mark Wilf.
Malcolm Hoenlein, Richard Sandler, Rebecca and Morton Klein, Mark Levenson, Ralph Herzka, A.D. Motzen, Dov Hikind, Michael Savage, Maury Litwack, Rivka Kidron, George Klein, Yitz Applbaum, Ira Rennert, Pastor John Hagee, Sandra Parker, Michael Makovsky, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rabbi Levi and Nechama Shemtov, Pesach Lerner, Howard Kohr, Karen Paikin Barall, Barry Mannis, Ezra Friedlander, Adam Milstein, David Malpass, Sol Werdiger, Larry Gordon, Leon Goldenberg, Jeff Ballabon, Alex Friedman, Scott Gottlieb, Chanina Sperlin, Yoel Lefkowitz, Zev Brenner, William Daroff, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Joel Eisdorfer, Mendy Carlebach, Duvi Honig, Martin Sweet, Ika Lillas Lindman, David Milstein, Shawn Evenhaim, Nathan Diament, and David Suissa. [Pic]