WASHINGTON, DC — During the White House Hanukkah Reception in the East Room on Thursday, President Donald Trump celebrated his historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.
“Well, I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room,” Trump said to the guests gathered.
Every former president before Trump who made it their campaign promise to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital failed to deliver.
“On behalf of all Americans I also want to say how grateful I am to Jewish congregations throughout our country,” Trump said. “You cherish your families, support your communities, and uplift our beloved country. Hanukkah is a time for Jewish families throughout the world to celebrate the miracles of the past and promises of the future. We are proud to stand with the people of Israel and renew our enduring bond.”
President Trump has also directed the U.S. State Department to start a plan for physically relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In an interview with Breitbart News, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said of the physical move, “I’m sure it’s going to happen.”
Trump spoke of the “miracle of the Maccabees,” who led to Hanukkah and how “they found only enough oil to light the lamp for a single night. Soon, all were stunned to find that for eight days, the lamp continued to burn brightly—a sign of God’s presence in his dwelling place and a symbol of the faith and resilience of the Jewish people. You do have faith and you do have resilience.”
On stage with the president were First Lady Melania Trump, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, his grandchildren, Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen Pence, Holocaust survivor Louise Lawrence-Israels, and Orthodox Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.
Soloveichik, who gave the invocation at the opening session of the 2012 Republican National Convention, thanked Trump for “recognizing what we’ve all always known to be true,” and led the Hannukah blessings and prayers.
Although the blessings he recited are traditionally said on the first night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Soloveichik noted, “We can say it now because of the joyous tithings that we have just received.”
Lawrence-Israels spent the first three years of her life hiding from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam, mere blocks from where Anne Frank was also hiding. She works at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. “We thank God that a woman that was born into that nightmare of oppression now lives in this land of the free,” he said of Lawrence-Israels.
“People let this happen,” Lawrence-Israels reportedly said. “We cannot let that happen again … hatred and prejudice should not have a place in the world.”