In a historic first, congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle joined together on Tuesday, the sixth night of Chanukah, for the inaugural lighting of the U.S. Capitol Menorah.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) opened the event, speaking about the significant rise in antisemitism across the country since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip. “It’s incumbent upon leaders to not only denounce antisemitism but to counter it with love,” he said. “ … The last two months have proven that we have a long way to go in making the world a safer place for our Jewish brothers and sisters. But we must remember that the only way to drive out darkness is to overwhelm it with light.”
In his remarks, the Speaker acknowledged the presence of Tomer Keshet, a relative of the Bibas family kidnapped by Hamas, including 4-year-old Ariel and 11-month-old Kfir.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the nation’s highest-ranking Jewish lawmaker, said that lighting a menorah inside the Capitol building “reminds us of just how far the Jewish people have come in our long and winding history.”
He noted that this year, Chanukah comes “at a moment of grief, trial and fear for the Jewish people. Perhaps for that, it is all the more meaningful.”
The U.S. Capitol menorah-lighting was organized by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), who in his remarks noted that Schumer had loaned his own personal menorah for the event.
Also present and sharing remarks were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
McConnell and Jeffries highlighted the need to secure the release of the more than 100 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza. The leaders said they would not stop until every hostage was returned home.
The menorah, Shemtov explained, “is a symbol of the Jewish story of resilience, and America is the story of resilience. … When we light the menorah, it is Jewish people keeping our faith, but it is a message [to be] shared with all of our fellow Americans and peoples around the world.”
Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org/News.