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A First-Hand Account of Barack and Michelle’s Hanukkah Party

Tablet author lit menorah last night

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The Buckholtzes and the Obamas last night at the White House.(White House Flickr)

To the left is Alison Buckholtz and Ethan and Esther Moran, the wife, son, and daughter of a Jewish Navy pilot currently serving in Iraq. In case you could not tell, they are at the White House, to which they had been invited yesterday to light the menorah for Hanukkah’s sixth night. Buckholtz wrote about being a mother in a wartime military family in her book, Standing By, as well as for Tablet Magazine. This morning, she spoke with The Scroll about her family’s “magical,” “dream-like” evening.

For Ethan, 6, and Esther, 4, Buckholtz related, the highlight was meeting Sasha, Malia, and especially Bo, the world’ s most famous Portuguese Water Dog (“he’s very soft,” Buckholtz said). For Buckholtz, though, the real privilege was “to meet the people who make the decisions about our lives, and really see they have a deep understanding for the challenges military families face during wartime.” The President and the First Lady knew who her husband was, where he was stationed, and for how long, she reported; Vice President Biden, meanwhile, spoke movingly about his own son, Beau Biden, who until recently was deployed to Iraq. “It gave me a lot of comfort, and it gave me confidence, knowing these people really do appreciate the sacrifice,” she said.

Buckholtz lit the shamash, the central lead candle; her son lit the first three; and her daughter the second three (“thank God there was an even number!”). At the reception, Buckholtz met several other guests, including senior adviser David Axelrod. Despite recent controversy over his position on health-care reform, everyone seemed to want to talk to Sen. and Mrs. Lieberman, Buckholtz said. Finally, early this morning, Buckholtz’s husband, Scott, was able to call from Baghdad. She told him all about the event, and then they wished each other a happy eighth anniversary—it, too, was yesterday.

Related: Onward, Jewish Soldiers! [Tablet Magazine]
Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War
Obama Opens Jewish Holiday Fete [Politico]
White House Koshers Its Kitchen for Obama Hanukkah Party [Daily Flotus]

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A First-Hand Account of Barack and Michelle’s Hanukkah Party

Tablet author lit menorah last night

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