Political and religious commentary from a liberal, secular, humanistic perspective.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Obama's Last Hanukkah Celebration
What follows is part of what President Obama had to say at this celebration:
This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom. The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith. Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it—to publicize the mitzvah. And that's why we've invited all these reporters who are here. (Laughter.)
Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition. Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be—and defending the rights of others to do the same—that's our common creed. That's what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window—not to share the candles' glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors.
The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance—these are one and the same. Elie Wiesel taught us that lesson probably better than just about anybody. In one of his memories of the Holocaust, Elie watched a fellow prisoner trade his daily ration of bread for some simple materials with which to piece together a makeshift menorah. And he wrote that he couldn't believe the sacrifices this man was making to observe the holidays. A stunned Elie asked him, "Hanukkah in Auschwitz?" And the man replied, "Especially in Auschwitz."
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You'll notice immediately the difference between this president and the prezident elect. The sadness that difference engenders is overwhelming. We may not always have agreed with President Obama, but we don't always agree with anyone. But we know that Mr. Obama is a good and decent man who loves his country and has tried to do the best he can under unbelievably difficult circumstances.
Next month, we transition from a leadership tradition noted for its elegance and quality - a tradition built upon truth and honesty and reason, a tradition devoted to our country's highest ideals - to a tradition based on lies, fake news, cheating, stupidity, racism, hatred, greed, ignorance, and disregard for our historical documents. It is a tradition defined by chaos.