Kol Sasson arrives at the White House for their big gig.
University of Maryland Hillel’s Kol Sasson a cappella group was front and center when the Obama family welcomed representatives of the Jewish community to the White House to celebrate Chanukah.
“We were quite honored that the President and First Lady invited our students to perform at the event,” says Hillel’s International Board of Governors Chairman Randall Kaplan who attended the party with Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone. “Hearing our students sing ancient and modern Hebrew melodies in the White House – a building that symbolizes the American people -- was a deeply moving experience.”
Kol Sasson President Josh Aizen says that “being in the presence of so many influential politicians, Jewish leaders, and other dignitaries was more than I could have wished for. Not only were we able to simply be inside the White House, but we were also able to do what we love to do: sing.”
“Being able to sing in front of the President of the United States as a young Jewish American is something that I will never forget," adds Monique Lubaton. "We could not have asked for a better, more memorable day and it is definitely something that I will be able to tell my children and my grandchildren some day.”
"Kol Sasson had an amazing time at the White House. We felt extremely privileged to be able to share our music," enthuses Daniel Rabin.
Ethan and Esther Moran, along with their mother Alison Buckholtz, lit the candles of a silver menorah on loan from the Jewish Museum in Prague, which the First Lady visited earlier this year. The museum rescued this particular menorah from destruction by the Nazis. Ethan and Esther’s father Scott is a Commander in the U.S. Navy currently stationed in Iraq.
In his address to the gathering President Obama said: “It was more than 2,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, that a small band of believers led by Judah Maccabee rose up and defeated their foreign oppressors – liberating the city and restoring the faith of its people.
“And when it came time to rededicate the Temple, the people of Jerusalem witnessed a second miracle: a small amount of oil – enough to light the Temple for a single night – ended up burning for eight. It was a triumph of the few over the many; of right over might; of the light of freedom over the darkness of despair. And ever since that night, in every corner of the world, Jews have lit the Chanukah candles as symbols of resilience in times of peace, and in times of persecution – in concentration camps and ghettos; war zones and unfamiliar lands. Their light inspires us to hope beyond hope; to believe that miracles are possible even in the darkest of hours.”
Earlier this year Kol Sasson's 16 members performed at a plenary session of the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly alongside political satire troupe the Capitol Steps and former American Idol contestant Elliott Yamin. The group previously entertained at the White House Chanukah party in 2003.