WHITE HOUSE SCENE: The White House hosted their annual Hanukkah parties yesterday. So many JI readers were in attendance that some joked we were only going to run a list of names for today’s Daily Kickoff. One humorous aspect of the Hanukkah parties each year is the line outside the White House prior. Practically everyone has to wait in line, even members of Congress, and it’s where folks first see who else is attending the event. For some the line is their version of a new Apple product launch, while others begin arriving only an hour or so before the gates actually open.
As guests entered the East Wing they were serenaded by the Maccabeats who were joined, at times, by Jewish pop singer Lipa Schmeltzer who is also known as “Jewish Elvis” and “the Lady Gaga of Hasidic music.” The food was under the strict rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Shemtov and all meats were “Glatt Kosher — Chassidishe Shechitah” including the famous White House lamb chops. The lamb, we were told, was slaughtered specially last week in the President’s hometown of Chicago. William Daroff’s night was made when he discovered the platter of kosher vegan cookies.
Notable guests at this year’s Hanukkah party included Alan and Judy Gross, who the President gave a shoutout to. It was at last year’s Hanukkah party that Gross’ freedom from Cuba was announced. Vice President Joe Biden stopped by to take some selfies. One mainstay of the annual Hanukkah party is the proliferation of camera wielding participants, almost as if our good friends at CSPAN aren’t filming and all record of the event is at risk of extinction. Speaking of which, here is full video of the afternoon Hanukkah reception [CSPAN] • And the evening reception [CSPAN]
For people who tell you they ‘hung out’ with the President and the First Lady at the White House yesterday, this is what it’s really like for those who spent their entire time at the party just reserving a spot on the rope line. As guests begged for selfies, the President told them “I can’t take pictures guys, I’d be here all day and I got work to do but have fun at the party and try the ‘latkes’ — they’re great!” [YouTube]
TOP TWEET: @JeffreyGoldberg — “The White House Hanukkah party is @MattNosanchuk’s D-day, but he somehow manages.” [Twitter] • And if you want to see why, check out the lists below… Congrats to Matt Nosanchuk and his team for another Hanukkah party in the books.
SPOTTED at Party #1: Three generations of Shemtovs — Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, and Menachem Shemtov; President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Mrs. Rhoda Dermer, U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Israel Defense Attaché Yaacov Ayish, Alan and Andrea Solow, Abe Foxman, Elliot Brandt, Malcolm Hoenlein, Stephen Greenberg, Robert and Louise Cohen, John Ruskay and Robin Bernstein, Lillian Pincus and Jon Pincus, Jonathan Kessler, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Sol and Esther Werdiger, Rabbi Steven Wernick, Meredith Wernick, Matt Dorf, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, Allen Fagin, Matthew Berger, Rabbi Jonah Pesner and Dana S. Gershon, Matthew Grossman, Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Joseph Stamm, Ezra Friedlander, Jordana Cutler.
Mark Levin, Mark Joseph Stern, Jane Eisner, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, David Kalb, Bill and Raquel Gershon, Debbie Moed, Suzanne Doft, Caren Yanis, Lea Yanis, Louis and Manette Mayberg, Rabbi Jack Moline, Lisa Eisen, David Rittberg, Lisa and Brian Cohen, Ami Eden, Ira Forman, Howard Kohr, Sheila Katz, Hal Ossman, David Makovsky, Don Makovsky, Adam Teitelbaum, Nathan Lewin, Alyza Lewin and Eliezer Halbfinger, Gidi and Betty Grinstein, Shawn Evenhaim, Shoham Nicolet, Ari Mittleman, Robin Schatz, Michael Wilner, Sarah Arkin, David Feinman, Laura Adkins, Mikhael Smits, Adam Lehman, Hilary Krieger.
SPOTTED at Party #2: Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, Sen. Ben Cardin, Treasury Sec. Jack Lew, Denis McDonough, Jeffrey Goldberg, William Goldberg, William Daroff, Nathan Diament, Norm Eisen, Rob Eshman and Rabbi Naomi Levy, Esther Kustanowitz, Ruth Messinger, Stosh Cotler, Steve Rabinowitz, Laurie Moskowitz, Aaron Keyak, Avigail Goldgraber, Greg Rosenbaum, Jordan Namerow, Marshall Weiss, Richard and Ellen Sandler, Jerry Silverman with daughters Jenna and Naomi, Jarrod Bernstein, Andrew Weinstein, Rabbi Steve Gutow, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi Jason Miller, Rabbi Adam Raskin, Nancy Kaufman, Jeff Summit, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Amna Farooqi, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Jared Feldman.
Bob Sugarman, Jason Sugarman, Hadar Susskind, Josh Protas, Heschel Raskas, Kenneth Bob, Tim Shriver, Lily Daroff, Marc Stanley, Rep. Steve Israel, Sloane Appelbaum, Chemi Shalev, Nathan Guttman, Jay Footlik, Mark Hetfield, Andrew Lachman, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Sandy Levin, Stuart Eizenstat, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, S. Daniel Abraham and Ewa Abraham, Rep. Brad Sherman and Lisa Sherman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Aviva Kempner, Jane Harman, Rebecca Dinar, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Daniel Sokatch, Jay Ruderman, Shai Franklin, FL State Rep. Kevin Rader, Leslie Meyers, Rabbi Sid Schwartz, Jeffrey and Susie Stern, Barbara Goldberg Goldman, Robert Saferstein, Joshua Runyan, Stuart Maitlins, Marcie Hermelin Orley, Gideon Taylor, Cheryl Kagan, Eileen Levinson, Robbie Medwed.
INBOX — from a JI reader: “Last year at the White House Hanukkah party, Aviva Sufian, White House Envoy for Holocaust survivor services, met Steve Krubiner, then J Street’s COS. At today’s party, they got engaged.”
DWS AFTER PARTY: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz held her annual Hanukkah party in the Jefferson Room of the Library of Congress, which is typically reserved for members of Congress. The Library has a policy prohibiting flames of any sort so a lightbulb menorah was used instead. Kosher-style latkes, wine, coffee and dessert was served. One JI reader noted that the Israeli Amb. typically speaks at this event but was unable to make it this year. [Pic]
–Spotted: Ira Forman, Robert Saferstein, Matt Nosanchuk, Tiffany Harris, Rep. Ted Deutch, Greg Rosenbaum, Rob Eshman, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Laura Adkins, Florida State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, Orit Frenkel, Claude G.B. Fontheim, Rabbi Michael Latz, Ezra Friedlander, Cheryl Saferstein, Rep. Lois Frankel, Rep. Eliot Engel, Steve Bittel, William Daroff, Lily Daroff, Liz Leibowitz, Shelley Rood, Barbara Weinstein, Steve Rabinowitz, and Aaron Keyak.
RICHMOND SCENE: From a dedicated JI reader… “Gov. Terry McAuliffe (aka ‘the Macker’) hosted his second annual Chanukah reception in the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, VA, the oldest such residence in the country. Rabbi Jack Moline delivered remarks to more than 100 guests. Rabbis Michael Knopf and Dovid Asher lit candles. Among the attendees were Rabbis Yossel Kranz, Rosalin Mandelberg, Royi Shaffin, Jeffrey Arnowitz, Ari Mittleman, Sender Haber, Matisyahu Friedman, Ron Halber of the Washington JCRC, State Senators Adam Ebbin and Dick Saslaw, Delegates Marcus Simon, Eileen Filler-Corn, Mark Levine. Moline, Filler-Corn and Ebbin had a DC two-fer: they were at the White House in the afternoon and took off down I-95 to be in Richmond by 6.” [Pic]
IN JERUSALEM: “Netanyahu’s adopted pup Kaiya bites Likud MK Sharon Haskel and the husband of Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely at a Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony for Likud members at the prime minister’s residence.” [JPost]
Meanwhile at NYU, “Jeb Lights Menorah with NYU Hillel in NYC” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Jeb joined some 40 NYU-Hillel students at the NYU Bronfman Center in lower Manhattan for a menorah lighting ceremony on the 4th night of Hanukkah. Before watching on one of the students lighting the menorah, Jeb pulled out a few pairs of colored socks from his father’s collection… Bush was given a pen with Tefilat Haderech (travelers’ prayer) to keep him safe during his run for the White House.” [JewishInsider; Video] • Tim Miller tweets: “A boys first menorah lighting” [Twitter]
Deep Dive: “Jeb Bush’s super PAC burning through money with little to show for it” [WashPost]
Ted Cruz was also in NYC… attending a fundraiser at 535 Madison Avenue co-hosted by Joseph Konzelmann, a Goldman Sachs managing director. Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz and Melissa Jane Kronfeld gave the Republican presidential candidate a silver menorah [Pic] • Cruz also met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat [Pic]
Headline: “Ted Cruz Ditches Terror Hearings for Dollars” [DailyBeast]
VIRAL WATCH: Making a presidential cycle custom, the Daily Show covered the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Candidates Forum [Mediaite]
2016 WATCH: “Trump postpones Israel trip” by Nick Gass: “I have decided to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with @netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the U.S.,” he tweeted, a day after it was reported that he would meet with the prime minister on Dec. 28 during a previously scheduled visit to the country… In a subsequent telephone interview with “Fox and Friends,” Trump explained his decision to forgo the trip and meeting, noting that he did a campaign ad for Netanyahu, but also remarked that he “didn’t want to put him under pressure.” [Politico; Bloomberg]
Free Headline: Collective Sigh of Relief as Hurricane Trump Shifts Back to This Side of the Atlantic
First Draft Lede: “It might have to be next year in Jerusalem.” [NYTimes]
DRIVING THE DAY: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the Capitol today… At 10AM. Revlon will deliver a talk at Brookings and will engage in a conversation with Natan Sachs [Brookings] • The Israeli Embassy holds their annual Hanukkah reception this evening • The Israeli Consulate in NYC also hosts a reception in honor of Hanukkah…
IRAN DEAL: “Menendez slams ‘silence’ on Iran missile test” by Jordain Carney: “Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) slammed the Obama administration and the international community, suggesting they hadn’t taken a firm enough response to recent ballistic missile tests by Iran. “What has happened as a result of Iran violating the U.N. Security Council resolutions as it relates to missile testing? Absolutely nothing,” he said. “Something is wrong because the silence is so deafening.” [TheHill]
DISPATCH: “Khamenei’s Counterrevolution Is Underway” by Special Correspondent:“Iranians thought the nuclear deal would spark a new relationship with the West. But the supreme leader had other plans.” [ForeignPolicy]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Weinstein Co. Faces Key Board Meeting in Two Days: “No One Likes Laying Off Anybody”” [HollywoodReporter] • “Final part of Showcase Mall on Strip sold for $83 million to Nakash and Gindi” [VegasInc] • “Shari Redstone Talks Media Disruption in Rare Interview: “Complacency Is the Kiss of Death”” [HollywoodReporter] • “Backed Raises $1.5M To Tackle Credit By Letting Sponsors Vouch For Thin-File Borrowers” [TechCrunch]
CAMPUS TALK: “Strategy Emerging On Adelson BDS Effort” by Gary Rosenblatt: “Big-money Maccabee Task Force analyzing focus-group data, pushing collaboration, exec Brog says.” [JewishWeek]
INBOX: “The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice will award its highest honor, the 2015 Lantos Human Rights Prize, to three courageous female leaders of Muslim heritage at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C. today, December 10, 2015. Rebiya Kadeer, Irshad Manji, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali will all be honored for their willingness to defy social and cultural norms to speak out against human rights abuses.”
TRANSITION: “The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has named Rafi M. Rone as the newest program director for the Foundation. Rone will manage grants to nonprofits that serve low-income and vulnerable older adults in Israel as well as general community grants that provide support to both the Jewish community as well as the community-at-large, primarily in Israel and Baltimore… Rone, who most recently served as Vice President of Jewish & Israel Initiatives at the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds in Baltimore, will begin his position with the Weinberg Foundation on January 4.”
TALK OF OUR NATION: “Hanukkah, Why?” by Emma Green: “Cultural critics often blame Christmas for the Festival of Lights’ commercialized kitsch. The real story is much more complicated.” [TheAtlantic]