CBNNews.com - WASHINGTON - Outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush hosted the annual White House Hanukkah reception Monday evening.
This year's event featured the hanukkiyah (the traditional Hannukah candelabrum) given to former President Harry Truman by David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of the Jewish state.
The Truman library loaned the hanukkiyah to the White House for the occasion.
"A decade after President Truman received this gift, he visited Prime Minister Ben-Gurion for one of the last times," the President told the evening's 600 guests.
"As they parted, Ben-Gurion told the President that as a foreigner he could not judge President Truman's place in American history, but the president's courageous decision to recognize the new State of Israel gave him an immortal place in Jewish history," Bush said.
"I'm deeply moved to welcome the grandsons of these two great men, Clifton Truman Daniel and Yariv Ben-Eliezer, to light the Truman menorah together," he said.
"The story of Hanukkah recalls the miraculous victory of a small band of patriots against tyranny and the oil that burned for eight nights. Through centuries of exile and persecution, Jews have lit the menorah. Each year, they behold its glow with faith in the power of God and love for His greatest gift -- freedom," he said.
"This Hanukkah we celebrate another miraculous victory -- the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel," Bush said.
"When President Harry Truman led the world in recognizing Israel in May of 1948, many wondered whether the small nation could possibly survive. Yet from the first days of independence, the people of Israel defied dire predictions," he recounted.
"With determination and hard work, they turned a rocky desert into fertile soil. They built a thriving democracy, a strong economy, and one of the mightiest military forces on earth. Like the Maccabees [Jewish freedom fighters], Israel has defended itself bravely against enemies seeking its destruction. And today, Israel is a light unto the nations -- and one of America's closest friends," the outgoing President said.