Mitz-Vote

Potato Latkes with a Side of Politics

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share

It’s that time of year again, when Jewish politicos go latke-hopping from one Hanukkah event to another, making sure to be seen at the right menorah-lighting events.

And there are many to choose from in the nation’s capital.

First, naturally, comes President Obama’s Hanukkah reception at the White House. This is a tradition handed down from previous administrations which is traditionally a source of anxiety for Jewish insiders who have been checking their inbox for weeks to see if they’re on the list (and for organizers who face a significant amount of noodging from those wishing to get in).

Last year there was a lot of chatter about just how many people the Obamas invited to their reception and whether there were more or fewer than Bush used to invite (more, according to official accounts). This year, however, the White House has not released the numbers, but anxiety levels in the community seem lower, perhaps because most Jewish activists got their chance to get invited to the White House for either the Hanukkah reception or for the Jewish American Heritage Month event in May.

Everyone, however, is invited to attend the lighting of the National Menorah in the Ellipse, just outside the White House and next to the national Christmas tree. President Reagan was first to call it the “national” menorah and the name stuck. Performing at this Chabad-sponsored event will be the U.S. Navy Band and the Three Cantors.

Over on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida will be throwing the congressional menorah lighting, which will host not only Jewish lawmakers and staffers, but also many of the Jewish activists that are on the White House list as well.

And just so no one misses what the Obama administration has to say about the Festival of Lights, the president’s senior adviser, David Axelrod will, be speaking at the Hanukkah event sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Washington. The event, taking place at the city’s historic Sixth and I synagogue, will feature not only Axelrod and Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, but also Israeli rock star Ivri Lider, all the way from the holy land.

Things to watch for in these and other holiday events:

• Who is invited to the White House reception and which Jewish organizations will be represented more than others?

• Will the congressional candle lighting serve also as a farewell party for some Jewish congressmen who didn’t make it in this recent election cycle? (Senators Arlen Specter and Russ Feingold; Reps. Ron Klein, Paul Hodes, Alan Grayson, Steve Kagen, John Adler.)

• And will the rising star, Va. Rep. Eric Cantor, get to light the menorah? As majority leader-elect, he is, after all, soon to be the senior Jewish congressman on the Hill.

Add to all these events a whole bunch of menorah lighting events taking place at embassies, offices of Jewish organizations and pretty much everywhere else, and it makes for one busy Hanukkah in the nation’s capital.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Eric Cantor, Arlen Spector, Alan Grayson

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.