White House hosts Chanukah menorah-lighting reception; Pres. Obama identifying firefighting assistance US can offer Israel




THE PRESIDENT:  "Welcome to the White House.  I want to thank all of you for joining us in celebrating the second night of Hanukkah.  Happy Hanukkah, everybody.  (Applause.)
      We are joined tonight by Ambassador Michael Oren, of Israel.  Where’s Michael?  (Applause.)  He’s way back there.  And so I want to begin by offering our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all of those who’ve died as a result of the terrible forest fire in northern Israel.
      As rescuers and firefighters continue in their work, the United States is acting to help our Israeli friends respond to the disaster.  A short while ago, our ambassador in Tel Aviv, Jim Cunningham, issued a disaster declaration, which has launched an effort across the U.S. government to identify the firefighting assistance we have available and provide it to Israel as quickly as possible.  Of course, that's what friends do for each other.
      And, Mr. Ambassador, our thoughts and prayers are with everybody in Israel who is affected by this tragedy and the family and loved ones of those in harm’s way.
      Tonight, it’s an honor to welcome so many friends and leaders from the Jewish community and beyond.  And I want to start by recognizing my Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, who is here.  Please give him a round of applause.  (Applause.)  And all the other outstanding members of the diplomatic corps who are here...
So on this second night of Hanukkah, let us give thanks to the blessings that all of us enjoy.  Let us be mindful of those who need our prayers.  And let us draw strength from the words of a great philosopher, who said that a miracle is “a confirmation of what is possible.”
      And now I’d like to turn it over to Susan, who by the way has been on this stage before, receiving a presidential award for her outstanding work.  But she happens to be joined by a beautiful family -- Donald, Ben, Molly, Dina and Rebecca.  (Laughter.)  Rebecca is down here.  So I want to turn -- there she is.  Yes, she is adorable.  (Laughter.)  As Michelle -- (Laughter.)  As Michelle said as we were getting on stage, she will be stealing the show.  (Laughter.)  So we’re going to turn it over to Susan and her family for the blessings.
      (The blessings are offered.)
      THE PRESIDENT:  So happy Hanukkah to all of you.  We’re going to see most of you downstairs.  Be patient in the line.  (Laughter.)  And I just want to let everybody know that, yes, they will be able to Photoshop my lip for the picture.  (Laughter.)  Happy Hanukkah, everybody.  (Applause.)"  (Full Transcript)

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