by REERA YOO
On Dec. 17, President Obama celebrated the second day of Hanukkah at the White House with the Jewish community and invited Korean American Rabbi Angela Buchdahl to recite the second blessing.
“Hanukkah is really all about the celebration of nissim, of miracles,” Rabbi Buchdahl said in her speech. “From days of old all the way to now, so we do also always celebrate the miracle of the Maccabees and their tremendous victory over the tyrannical rulers as they searched for religious freedom. And that tonight, we–a tiny religious minority–are here and are able to celebrate our holiday with you [Mr. President] in the White House is a miracle we do not take for granted as the Jewish people.”
The crowd broke into applause and cheers.
“I would say that our founding fathers, they wanted to aspire to build a country that was truly to build a place of religious freedom and equal opportunity for all people,” Buchdahl continued. “But I have to predict that they could not have imagined that in 2014 that there would be a female Asian American rabbi lighting the menorah at the White House for an African American president.”
To this cheeky comment, President Obama jested, “You don’t think they predicted that?”
“I think they’d be surprised,” Buchdahl responded, earning a round of laughter from the audience.
Watch Buchdahl’s speech here.