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VP Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff light Hanukkah menorah at home

Bidens to host COVID-curtailed Hanukkah gathering on Wednesday at the White House; Emhoff addresses lighting ceremony of National Menorah

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

US Vice President Kamala Harris talks with her husband, Doug Emhoff, during a visit to Paris on November 13, 2021. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
US Vice President Kamala Harris talks with her husband, Doug Emhoff, during a visit to Paris on November 13, 2021. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, lit candles for the first night of Hanukkah at the vice president’s residence in Washington on Sunday evening.

“From our family to yours, Happy Hanukkah,” tweeted Emhoff, who is Jewish, from his official “Second Gentleman” Twitter account, in a post that was then shared by Harris.

Earlier on Sunday, Emhoff attended the annual lighting ceremony of the National Menorah near the White House.

“Hanukkah is not just a holiday, it is a time for hope, freedom and love,” said Emhoff in his remarks at the ceremony. He wished the crowd a happy Hanukkah “on behalf of the president, the first lady, the vice president and myself.”

“American Jews and Jews worldwide have experienced and continue to experience hostility, discrimination and violence,” said Emhoff. “We must fight antisemitism and hate of every kind, and call it out when we see it.”

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden issued a statement in celebration of Hanukkah, noting that the holiday “teaches us that even a little bit of light, wherever it is found, can dispel the darkness and illuminate a path forward.”

Biden added: “From our family to yours, and from the People’s House to your own homes, Jill and I wish you and your loved ones a Chanukah Sameach, a Happy Hanukkah!”

The White House is planning a pared-down Hanukkah party for this week. The gathering, slated for Wednesday evening, will include a menorah lighting at the White House, but is not expected to include food or drink, in efforts to maintain mask wearing amid the pandemic.

The White House said that the president, first lady, vice president and second gentleman will all be in attendance at the event, which marks the first Hanukkah since Biden took office in January.

Then-president Donald Trump faced criticism for hosting a Hanukkah party last year at the White House as the pandemic raged.

He had also been criticized for turning the gatherings into highly politicized events. In his remarks at the Hanukkah party last year, Trump insisted that Biden had “stolen” the 2020 presidential election.

JTA contributed to this report.

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