President Trump hosted his first Hanukkah party Thursday, and although there were several rabbis and a spread of kosher food — lamb chops, latkes, baked goods — there were some notable absences. For example: Democrats.
Trump left all Democratic lawmakers off the list of 300 guests; the only visible Democrat was Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, according to attendee Nathan Diament, from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. "It's deeply unfortunate that the White House Hanukkah party — a bipartisan event bringing together Jewish and non-Jewish leaders alike to celebrate the Festival of Lights since 2001 — has turned into a partisan affair under this administration," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).
Jewish Trump critics were also snubbed, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and everyone from the left-leaning advocacy group J Street. "I am not aware of the political affiliation of any of the guests, but I do know that this year was meant to be more personal than political," Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, told The New York Times. Duvi Honig, founder of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, said Trump invited mostly allies because "he's an investor. He sees where the return is."
There were four Christmas trees at the celebration — though the crèche (manger display) was covered — and lots of celebrating Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room," Trump said at the beginning of his speech, adding: "Jerusalem." There were also two menorahs, one of which was lit by Trump's grandchildren. Hanukkah doesn't start until next Tuesday, which Rabbi Meir Soloveichik Hes noted during the closing blessings. Which, well:
Trump leaves for Mar-a-Lago on Friday.