President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcomed guests at the White House to celebrate Hanukkah on Thursday, including the family of Meadow Pollack, a student who was shot and killed in the shooting at Parkland High School.
“You honor us with your presence and you inspire us with your courage,” Trump said to the family. “We cannot imagine your sorrow, your pain … you went through so much and you are going through so much.” Meadow’s father Andrew Pollack stood with Trump as he made his remarks. Meadow’s stepmom Julie and her brother Hunter Pollack also attended the Hanukkah event at the White House.
Trump said that Americans would hold the memory of Meadow and all of the victims of the Parkland shooting close their hearts.
He also invited her father Andrew to address the crowd.
Pollack spoke about the spirit of Hanukkah, recalling how the Maccabees rebelled against the Jewish elites who wanted to welcome the progressive Greeks into their culture. He praised the Maccabees for retaking Jerusalem against all odds and restoring the Jewish faith to the temple.
“They got it done under budget and ahead of schedule,” Pollack said as the audience chuckled. “The Jewish people would not have survived if the Maccabees had lost, they have a special place among the Jewish people because they never stopped fighting for God and our future,”
Pollack praised Trump for continuing to fight by “retaking Washington” and serving the American people.
“You are the greatest friend that the Jewish people have ever had in the White House,” he said as the audience shouted, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”
Pollack said he would continue fighting to protect students in schools just like the Maccabees kept fighting for their faith.
The president spoke at a second White House reception for Hanukkah attended by many of his cabinet members, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump also gave a shoutout to Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson who was present for the ceremony.
Trump specifically noted that his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner were present.
“I’m also proud that the Jewish faith is so deeply woven into the fabric of my family,” he said. “It’s a great honor.”
He again recalled the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, vowing to fight the “vile poison of anti-Semitism” around the world.
“Throughout our history, we have seen that no darkness can overcome the light of the Jewish faith and that no evil can overcome the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people,” Trump said.