On Thursday afternoon, the Obamas welcomed Rabbi Amanda Lurer, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, to say a couple of blessings. Lurer is the former Director of Education at Temple Beth Am in Framingham.
Thursday, Dec. 5, President Obama told the large afternoon crowd at the White House usually we have just one Hanukkah reception, "but this year we are hosting two because we have so many friends to celebrate with we had to do it twice. ... It is our own little Hanukkah miracle. The party that was supposed to last only one hour will go on for eight."
The President said "we give thanks to all the men and women in uniform and for their families. They make tremendous sacrifices on our behalf, on behalf of our freedom and our security -- not only of us, but our allies and friends around the world, including our friends in the State of Israel."
Included among that military was U.S. Navy Lt. Amanda Lurer, who is also a rabbi. She offered two blessings at the afternoon celebration.
"Hanukkah formally ends tonight as the sun goes down this evening. But it will always be appropriate for us as we gather to remind ourselves and the world of the meaning of this holiday," said Lurer. "So in that spirit, in this wonderful gathering, we now kindle the menorah and recite two blessings."
"And as we kindle the lights, we'll say -- the first one is the she-asa nissim blessing, thanking God for the miraculous capability to bring light to the darkest corners of the world, and for leaders who are dedicated to strengthening religious freedoms in our days as in the day of the Maccabees," said the rabbi. "The second blessing is shehecheyanu, that simple yet powerful prayer of thanksgiving, for the blessing of life, the gift of light and the privilege to celebrate Hanukkah together."
Listen to Rabbi Lurer recite the blessings in the attached video clip provided by the White House.