A 90-year-old Hanukkah menorah that belonged to a synagogue in Long Island survived the Hurricane Sandy storm in order to be utilized at the White House for a Hanukkah Party hosted by President Obama as a symbol of hope and perseverance. The survival of this Hanukkah menorah was nothing short of a miracle, given that Hurricane Sandy destroyed numerous religious books, six Torah scrolls, and many other artifacts in the Temple Israel synagogue. The Long Island synagogue, which has been in operation since 1923, had $5 million worth of damage.

According to the New York Times, “The White House was led to Rabbi Bauman’s congregation by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, an organization that helped communities in New York City and on Long Island in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. The group informed the White House about the menorah at Temple Israel. Rabbi Bauman, 41, who is also a reserve chaplain in the Marine Corps, will travel with the menorah to Washington for the Hanukkah party.”

Traditionally, White House Hanukkah parties select menorahs that have some kind of meaningful history. Last year, the menorah displayed at the White House Hanukkah Party was built at a displaced person’s camp in Europe following the Second World War. In 2010, White House officials selected a menorah that had survived Hurricane Katrina.

According to Jarrod Bernstein, White House director for Jewish outreach, “The Hanukkah story and the story of recovery from a hurricane are not dissimilar. Though not entirely the same, the spirit of reconstituting and re-sanctifying is still there.” Rabbi Bauman, who spent 72 hours pumping out seawater, another six weeks cleaning up and still claims his synagogue is without electricity, concurred, “The story of Hanukkah is about the underdog being victorious. And that’s our goal. We will rebuild.

Meanwhile, right outside the White House, the US National Hanukkah Menorah was lit this week, in a celebration which featured the US Navy Band in one of the most high profile Hanukkah events within the United States. The US National Hanukkah Menorah lighting was organized by the Chabad movement. In a public statement made for Hanukkah, President Obama stated that Hanukkah was “a time to celebrate the faith and customs of the Jewish people” but also “an opportunity for people of all faiths to recognize the common aspirations we share.”

Here is a video newscast of the US National Hanukkah Menorah lighting!

By Rachel Avraham