Barack Obama used the beginning of Hanukkah as an opportunity to remind people of one of his most fervent — if sadly as yet unproven — beliefs: “Let’s remember,” Obama writes,” that the light of hope will always shine brighter than hate.”
Obama offers this noble and hopeful sentiment after also reminding people that we are living through a time when “antisemitism is on the rise around the world.”
Obama writes: “Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to everyone celebrating Hanukkah. At a time when antisemitism is on the rise around the world, let’s remember that the light of hope will always shine brighter than hate. From my family to yours, Chag Sameach!”
Obama ends his wish and reminder with the greeting in Hebrew, “Chag Sameach,” which means either Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays or Happy Festival — all of which indicate the same wish. It’s known as an “all-purpose” greeting that can be used for any Jewish holiday, not only Hanukkah.
In 2016, the Obama White House issued an eloquent statement on Hanukkah that reads in part:
For more than two millennia, the story of Hanukkah has reminded the world of the Jewish people’s perseverance and the persistence of faith, even against daunting odds. For more than two centuries, the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom — one codified in the Bill of Rights and chronicled in the enduring promise President George Washington made in his letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: that the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
On that occasion, the President wrote: “On behalf of Michelle and my family, Chanukah Sameach. Happy Hanukkah!”