By Amanda Kim Stairrett, 1st Inf. Div. Public AffairsDecember 19, 2018
The "Big Red One's" senior chaplain participated in the White House's Hanukkah reception Dec. 6, 2018.
Col. Schmuel Felzenberg was a guest of President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for the annual ceremony, which took place in the East Room.
Felzenberg is the senior-most active duty Jewish chaplain in the Department of Defense, and gave introductory remarks, recited the menorah lighting blessings in English and Hebrew, and lit the menorah during the ceremony.
Hanukkah celebrations this year began Dec. 2 and ended the evening of Dec. 10.
"We are gathered together this evening to commemorate the triumph of the Jewish people in the face of terrible oppression," Trump said at the event. "Hanukkah is the story of Jewish patriots who fought to reclaim their freedom."
More than 2,000 years ago, the Maccabees defeated a tyrant and massive army and restored the Holy Temple, Trump said. After their victory, they found just enough oil to light the temple lamp for one night, but the light burned for eight nights.
"This year, we light the menorah, we reflect upon the extraordinary resilience of the Jewish people in the face of centuries of oppression," he said.
Felzenberg, who was in the Washington, D.C., area for U.S. Forces Command readiness training, said it was a "huge honor" to represent his branch and the 1st Infantry Division.
"It (the White House) is a magical place," Felzenberg said. "Surreal in a completely good way, and the seat of power for the leader of the free world.
"To directly support POTUS/his office and do so on his turf is a memory not to be forgotten."