Rabbi reflects on Jewish ceremonies with Second Gentleman (VIDEO)
Emhoff hosted a virtual Passover dinner earlier this year, lit the first menorah at the vice president’s residence, and was the first to affix a mezuzah to the door.
Vacations to the White House and the Vice President’s Residence have been something to see for many years, from turkey pardons to annual Christmas greetings from Obamas.
While the list of traditions can be long, this year was a first for those of the Jewish faith, with the second Mr. Doug Emhoff becoming the first Jewish spouse of a vice president.
“It’s humiliating,” he said. “And it is not for myself that I stand before all of you on behalf of all the Jewish families and communities in our country.”
It’s a role he took on, hosting a virtual Passover dinner earlier this year, lighting the first menorah at the Vice Presidential Residence and becoming the first to affix a mezuzah, a symbol of the Jewish faith, on his door.
Rabbi Peter Berg participated in this private ceremony with Emhoff and his family.
âIt was truly an amazing time for us,â he said. âWhen I started the ceremony and talked about the number of centuries Jews were banned from practicing their Jewish tradition, but today we can be proud to be Americans and Jews, we all started to cry spontaneously. It was a really strong moment. “
Jewish traditions are increasingly represented in administrations over the years. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter lit a menorah in front of the White House. In 2001, President George W. Bush made Hanukkah an official part of White House celebrations. And former presidential advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who are Jewish, participated in several religious traditions during their time in the White House.
Rabbi Berg tells Newsy that portrayal is important, especially now, with reports of anti-Semitism increasing.
“We spoke of the historical significance of the moment, that this is the first time in the history of the United States that an executive residence would contain the unchanging symbol of the Jewish faith and especially in this time of anti-Semitism, which has reached such high standards – what it means for Jews for the Second Family to proudly say: this is a Jewish house, âBerg said.