As I stood outside in the near freezing Washington DC cold, it hit me that I was in line to join the President and First Lady for Hanukkah! I had received a beautiful invitation a few weeks prior in the mail, but still have no idea how I ended up getting invited to the White House for a Hanukkah celebration but Frankly, it is a lot more fun not knowing. Id’ like to think that the President and First Lady were having dinner one night and thought, “You know who should be at our Hanukkah reception? Moishe House! They do great work!”
|David, meet the Vice President. Veep, meet David.|
Before the actual Hanukkah reception we were invited to a policy briefing at the Eisenhower offices, which was really well done, and quite interesting. Following the two-hour briefing, we had a little break but before we knew it, 5:30 PM came around and it was time to head into the White House. After three security checks, we were finally greeted with a refreshing glass of champagne and program book. Walking through the smaller halls on our way to the actual reception hall was an experience unto itself — including a stop to send postcards to our troops overseas. After I spent the first ten minutes admiring the men’s room that is about the same size as my entire apartment, we headed upstairs to the beautiful sounds of the Marine band playing Hanukkah music, an out of this world buffet and three open bars! I was able to get a few extra White House napkins and even a branded yarmulke.
One thing the White House certainly takes seriously is being on time. When we arrived they handed every person a card with a time slot to return downstairs. I didn’t know what it was at first –as I was a bit too overwhelmed by everything– but later I learned it was a receiving line to meet the President and First Lady. At exactly 6:35 PM, President Obama, the First Lady and Vice-President joined the party to share a few words, light the menorah and introduce Joshua Redman, who played some beautiful songs for the guests. The choice of menorahs was a terrific; bringing in a recovered menorah from a New Orleans Synagogue that was flooded during hurricane Katrina.
Immediately following the candle lighting, my fiancé and I went down stairs to the receiving line to meet the President and First Lady. No matter what your politic views, there is no way to not feel a rush of emotion when standing in a room with only 12 people and two of them being Barack and Michelle Obama. We had a chance to meet, invite them to our wedding and get a picture.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the whole event was waking up the next morning in Washington DC, turning on the television to see that Barack Obama was in Afghanistan giving a speech. I literally could not believe it. Just a few hours before I’d been shaking his hand, but while I was back at my hotel fast asleep, Obama was heading across the world to continue the never ending job of being the President of the United States of America.
I am still in disbelief that less than a week ago I was enjoying Hanukkah with the Commander in Chief, but I guess I can reminisce in person with Barack and Michelle once I invite them to my wedding next year!
I’d have to assume they are good gift givers.