On the first night of Hanukkah, the internet gave to me… a new Taylor Swift album and a pitch-perfect perfect candle lighting video from the Biden-Harris transition team.
Hanukkah is one of our favorite holidays — and a reminder to spread the light at a time when we've never needed it more.
From our big, modern family to yours, happy Hanukkah! pic.twitter.com/KbkisZooCO
— Doug Emhoff (@DouglasEmhoff) December 10, 2020
Seriously, a lot is bad in the world right now. But this video, which was posted on Twitter by the the soon-to-be Second Gentleman (title pending), Doug Emhoff, is a short but very moving balm full of Yiddishkeit.
In the video, Emhoff, VP-elect Kamala Harris’ Jewish husband, shares that Hanukkah is “one of our favorite holidays in our big modern family.” (Emhoff, as you likely know by now, has two kids from his previous marriage, Ella and Cole. They call Harris “momala,” a Yiddish-sounding amalgam of “Kamala” and “mom.”)
In the sweet video, Harris — who does a perfect impression of her Jewish mother-in-law — shares why the Festival of Lights is her favorite. While Emhoff uses an Americanized pronunciation for Hanukkah, Kamala pronounces it with a hint of a perfect “ch,” which I truly have to applaud. She then says she loves the holiday because it really is about “bringing light to places where there have been darkness,” especially at a time where there is so much darkness in the world. It’s about “Tikkun olam,” she summarizes, bringing up the Jewish value of repairing the world, “fighting for justice and fighting for the dignity of all people.”
“And it’s about joy, and spreading that joy around the world, and sharing it with your family and with your neighbors, and your community, and that’s important right now,” Emhoff adds poignantly.
But perhaps the most moving moment is when they light the menorah (or hanukiah) together. Harris lights the shamash, and Emhoff uses it to light the candle for the first night of Hanukkah, which begins tonight, December 10.
It’s a small moment, but for a Jewish person in America — an America where anti-Semitism and white supremacy are on the rise — it is extremely powerful. To see this couple, who will soon be in the White House (or, more precisely, the Naval Observatory), carry on this Jewish tradition — not as a gesture of friendship or allyship with Jewish people, but because it is a historical part of their blended Jewish family and home — is deeply meaningful and groundbreaking. We may or may not have shed a tear (or eight).
Yes, we know this video will not fix all that ails the world. But it does bring us a little, much-needed light. Chag shameach, Doug and Kamala!