US President Barack Obama has invited the son and granddaughter of late Israeli President Shimon Peres to the White House’s traditional candle-lighting ceremony ahead of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah beginning later this month.
Nehemia Peres and Mika Almog, the son and granddaughter of the recently deceased Israeli statesman, will light Hanukkah candles at an official ceremony in Washington next week.
Because this year the first night of the Hanukkah festival coincides with Christmas eve, the White House will hold its official candle-lighting ceremony next week.
The Peres’ will bring with them a priceless family heirloom — a menorah that has been passed on for generations since the Holocaust.
Obama forged a close bond with the Peres family at the funeral of the former Israeli President and Nobel Laureate, who died in September aged 93.
Obama hailed the Israeli leader as a giant of the 20th century.
“There are few people who we share the world with who change the course of history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more from ourselves. My friend Shimon Peres was one of those people,” Obama said.
Hanukkah (also known as the Festival of Lights) will begin the night of December 24 and last for eight nights, commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Jewish revolt against the ancient Greek Seleucid Empire.