Tag Archives: White House

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah at the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

Last night, President Obama, Vice President Biden and the First Lady welcomed friends and leaders from the Jewish community to celebrate the second night of Hanukkah at the White House. “So on this second night of Hanukkah,” said President Obama, “Let us give thanks to the blessings that all of us enjoy. Let us be mindful of those who need our prayers. And let us draw strength from the words of a great philosopher, who said that a miracle is “a confirmation of what is possible.”

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Before lighting the menorah, the President delivered remarks:

Now, tonight, we gather to celebrate a story as simple as it is timeless. It’s a story of ancient Israel, suffering under the yoke of empire, where Jews were forbidden to practice their religion openly, and the Holy Temple — including the holy of holies — had been desecrated.

It was then that a small band of believers, led by Judah Maccabee, rose up to take back their city and free their people.  And when the Maccabees entered the temple, the oil that should have lasted for a single night ended up burning for eight.

That miracle gave hope to all those who had been struggling in despair.  And in the 2,000 years since, in every corner of the world, the tiny candles of Hanukkah have reminded us of the importance of faith and perseverance. They have illuminated a path for us when the way forward was shrouded in darkness.

And as we prepare to light another candle on the menorah, let us remember the sacrifices that others have made so that we may all be free. Let us pray for the members of our military who guard that freedom every day, and who may be spending this holiday far away from home.

Let us also think of those for whom these candles represent not just a triumph of the past, but also hope for the future — the men, women and children of all faiths who still suffer under tyranny and oppression.

That’s why families everywhere are taught to place the menorah in public view, so the entire world can see its light. Because, as the Talmud teaches us, “So long as a person still has life, they should never abandon faith.”

Ben Retik lights the Menorah as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama take part in the Hanukkah Candle Lighting ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 2, 2010 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Ben Retik lights the Menorah as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama take part in the Hanukkah Candle Lighting ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Dec. 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

He continued, explaining how the menorah and the family who helped light it both stand as symbols of that faith:

This beautiful menorah has been generously loaned to us by Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans. 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.  And today it stands as a reminder of the tragedy and a source of inspiration for the future.

And that feeling is shared by Susan Retik. It’s a feeling they know all too well.  After her husband, David, was killed on September 11th, Susan could have easily lost herself in feelings of hopelessness and grief.  But instead, she turned her personal loss into a humanitarian mission — co-founding “Beyond the 11th,” a group that reaches out to Afghan widows facing their own struggles.

So on this second night of Hanukkah, let us give thanks to the blessings that all of us enjoy.  Let us be mindful of those who need our prayers. And let us draw strength from the words of a great philosopher, who said that a miracle is “a confirmation of what is possible.”

Ed. Note: In August 2010, Susan Retik was awarded the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal for advancing women’s rights and the power of America’s ideals. The Medal is among the highest honors a civilian can recieve. Watch a video of her story here.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Attends “Let’s Move” Event In Harlem

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Let’s Move” after-school event in Harlem with elementary school children at the New York Police Athletic League’s Harlem Center November 18, 2010 in New York City. The First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign highlights the importance of physical activity and healthy eating for children in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

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You’re Invited “Inside The White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Posted by Kori Schulman


Thousands of visitors tour the White House each day. It’s been a long time in the making and today, we’re pleased to invite you on our new interactive White House tour.

With some incredible behind-the-scenes photos from the Photo Office and our best “Inside the White House” videos, you’re invited to do everything from cook with the New Orleans Saints in the White House kitchen, to peek inside the Situation Room, to watch the Jonas Brothers perform in the East Room and tour the first ever beehive on White House grounds with beekeeper Charlie Brandt — plus a lot more. What are you waiting for? Welcome to the White House.

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Filed under Change, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Pres. Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden

Trick-or-Treat with the President and First Lady

Posted by: Audiegrl

Carved pumpkins depicting President Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and the White House sit on a stone wall next door to where the President was attending a dinner reception in Providence, Rhode Island, Oct. 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama greet trick or treaters and their parents at the White House October 31, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Obama’s greeted children and military families at the North Portico to celebrate Halloween and to trick or treat across the North Lawn.

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President Barack Obama hugs a trick or treater at the White House October 31, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Obama's greeted children and military families at the North Portico to celebrate Halloween and to trick or treat across the North Lawn. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images North America)


An American Tradition: UNICEF’s Trick or Treat is Young at 60

Written by Ambassador Susan Rice

When I was growing up, I carried two things with me on Halloween: a bag for candy and my UNICEF box. This was true from the moment of my very first Trick-or-Treat. In the late 1960s and ’70s, Washington, DC felt a world away from the battle-scarred towns of post-World War II Europe, and from the villages of the developing world that were suffering from food insecurity and infectious disease.

But thanks to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s “Trick-or-Treat” campaign and my bright orange box full of jangling coins, I knew that I had the power to make a difference. I knew I could help give other young kids access to safe water if they were thirsty, medicines if they were in danger of getting sick, and textbooks even if they lacked access to a good school. Still today, the backs of UNICEF’s orange boxes translate kids’ efforts into real outcomes: seven cents gets 50 kids safe water for a day. Nineteen dollars gets three mosquito nets and some much-needed protection against malaria. More than $160 million has been collected for UNICEF on Halloween.

The U.S. Fund’s Halloween campaign was my first exposure to the United Nations. Ever since my childhood, I’ve been passionate about UNICEF and its efforts. I am proud today to release an official statement congratulating the U.S. Fund for UNICEF on the 60th anniversary of its Halloween collections. And I’m proud to add my voice to a chorus of support that has included Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, First Ladies Ford, Reagan and Bush, Mighty Mouse, the New Kids on the Block, and Spiderman. I wish UNICEF the best with its Halloween collections this year, and I wish all children, including my own, a safe and happy Halloween.

Ambassador Susan Rice is the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Link to 44-D’s Halloween Special of 2009

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Behind the Scenes Video from the White House Science Fair

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Katelyn Sabochik

Last week, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Science Fair, bringing together middle school and high school students from around the country and their award winning science, engineering and technology projects.  The White House Science Fair was a part of the President’s Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade.

Check out this behind the scenes video from the White House Science Fair, including Bill Nye the Science Guy and hosts of the show Mythbusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Kicks Off Let’s Move South Lawn Series

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Melissa Blaustein

First Lady Michelle Obama works out with Washington area students on the South Lawn of the White House on May 25, 2010 in Washington, DC. The first lady kicked of the first in a South Lawn series of summer activities for kids. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

This afternoon the First Lady welcomed nearly 100 local students to the White House to kick off the South Lawn Series – events throughout the summer season to bring local children, sports leagues, community programs and coaches to the South Lawn to participate in sports, games and activities. Today’s event featured sports trainers from the Washington Redskins, Capitals, Nationals and Wizards as well as PE teachers from DC Public schools who demonstrated ways for kids to get 60 minutes of active play per day. The First Lady, alongside Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, moved too – taking part in obstacle courses, knee lifts and running drills.

The Series is in support of Let’s Move! – the First Lady’s initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.  In remarks to the very first group of participants,  the First Lady stressed the importance of getting in at least 60 minutes of exercise, not just at the White House today, but everyday:

You know, there’s a report out that says kids should get no less than 60 minutes of exercise every single day.  And around the country we just got a report that shows that in states across the country, a lot of kids aren’t coming close.  They’re not getting just what they need.  And it’s hard if your schools don’t have P.E. and gym, right?

If you can’t do it at school, if you don’t live in a community where you have sports teams and things like that, if you can’t play outside because neighborhoods aren’t safe, right, so your parents want to keep you inside, if you’re watching too much TV and playing too many computer games — (laughter) — sometimes that cuts into your ability to move.

And went on to explain that the series isn’t just to get kids moving on the lawn, but will hopefully inspire lots of children to get active in their own backyards:

And this series that we’re doing on the South Lawn is really to encourage kids, because we got this press all behind you, and they’re going to show you guys on TV, and there are going to be a lot of kids going, how do I do that?  You know, how do I get moving like that?  They’re at the White House moving.  Maybe I can do this in my own back yard, in my own community.

So you guys are going to be the first example this summer of really encouraging kids to move.  But we are going to need you, not just here today, but you’re going to have to go home and take some of what you’ve learned here and teach your families and folks — the other kids in your schools who haven’t had a chance to come, and figure out how you guys can get other people in your lives moving. Can you promise me that you’ll help me on this?

CHILDREN:  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  You promise?
CHILDREN:  Yes!

The White House Visitors Office, the Office of Public Engagement, and the First Lady’s office will continue to invite local Sports leagues, community programs and students to the White House throughout the summer to participate in the South Lawn Series and engage them in the Let’s Move! campaign.

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Host 2010 Cinco De Mayo Fiesta at White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an event marking Cinco de Mayo in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 5, 2010. (Photos by REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Feliez Cinco de Mayo! At six o’clock this evening, President Obama and First Lady Michelle welcomed hundreds of guests to the Rose Garden for a celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Battle of Puebla

Battle of Puebla

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May“) is a voluntarily-observed holiday that commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. It is celebrated primarily in the state of Puebla and in the United States. While Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

On May 19th President Obama and First Lady Michelle will host a state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon and First Lady Margarita Zavala de Calderon during a two-day state visit to the United States.

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18th Annual National Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington


Members of the Maru Montero Dance Company perform at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument during the 18th Annual National Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington Sunday, May 2, 2010.

(Photos by AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)



On Cinco de Mayo, a Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Welcoming a boisterous crowd to the Rose Garden for Cinco de Mayo, the President had a long list of people to recognize. From Mexico’s Interior Secretary, Fernando Gomez Mont, to Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, to esteemed Members of Congress, to Secretaries Solis, Napolitano, and Salazar, to Maru and the Montero Dance Company and Javier Cortes, it was a crowd more than worthy of recognition.

The President also gave a nod to “Los Suns,” the Phoenix basketball team who has made a statement by wearing jerseys in their playoff games that give a nod to American and Arizona’s diversity. The President added his own statement:

“So today reminds us that America’s diversity is America’s strength. That’s why I spoke out against the recently passed law in Arizona. (Applause.) Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken. And after so many years in which Washington has failed to meet its responsibilities, Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states. But the answer isn’t to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation. We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress. We can’t turn law-abiding American citizens —- and law-abiding immigrants —- into subjects of suspicion and abuse. We can’t divide the American people that way. That’s not the answer. That’s not who we are as the United States of America.

And that’s why I’ve instructed my administration to closely monitor the new law in Arizona, to examine the civil rights and other implications that it may have. That’s why we have to close the door on this kind of misconceived action by meeting our obligations here in Washington.

So I want to say it again, just in case anybody is confused. The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.) That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do. It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -— they’ve got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally. They’ve got to admit that they broke the law, and pay taxes, and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law — and then get in line and earn their citizenship.

Comprehensive reform —- that’s how we’re going to solve this problem. And I know there’s been some commentary over the last week since I talked about this difficult issue: Well, is this politically smart to do? Can you get Republican votes? Look, of course, it’s going to be tough. That’s the truth. Anybody who tells you it’s going to be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention how this town works. (Laughter.)

We need bipartisan support. But it can be done. And it needs to be done. So I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week —- and I was pleased that it was based on a bipartisan framework. I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me — because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”

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