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White House Celebrates Lighting Of National Menorah

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The National Menorah Lighting has been celebrated in D.C. since 1979.
William Boncher: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42915120@N00/5297231501
The National Menorah Lighting has been celebrated in D.C. since 1979.

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins at sundown tonight, and thousands of people are expected to gather in front of the White House for the annual National Menorah Lighting.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov Executive Vice President of the American Friends of Lubavtich will climb onto a lift to light the world's largest menorah, which Shemtov says couldn't get any bigger than it already is.

"Well it's 30 feet tall and according to Jewish law or Halacha, the height of a menorah must be not higher than the eye can see with ease, which is 20 cubits," Shemtov says.

He says that for many American Jews who attend the annual event, the opportunity to excercize their religion in such a public manner is a source of great pride.

The tradition started in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter attended the first lighting. Special guest United States Trade Representative Michael Froman is here to lend a helping hand as Rabbi Levi Shemtov says the blessing over the 30-foot-tall menorah.

Shemtov will light the candle at sundown, when Hanukkah begins. Until then, attendees are listening to musical performances by The United States Air Force Band, The Three Cantors, and Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari.

Video of the ceremony will be broadcast on the official website.

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