The menorah used at the White House Hanukkah ceremony was generously loaned from the Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans -- one of very few items from the congregation that survived the devastation of Katrina. “Five years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit, the synagogue was covered in eight feet of water. Later, as the cleanup crew dug through the rubble, they discovered this menorah, caked in dirt and mold,” said President Obama in his remarks, “And today it stands as a reminder of the tragedy and a source of inspiration for the future.”
Just before the candle lighting, Rabbi Uri Topolosky of Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans shared the story of the menorah with us:
Today, Congregation Beth Israel has just broken ground on a new synagogue and they look forward to lighting this menorah as part of the dedication ceremonies next year at Hanukkah.