Schwarzenegger Joins Chanukah Celebration at Capitol Menorah Lighting Ceremony
Happy Hanukah to all who've assembled in this wonderful Rotunda and all those on the gallery. This is a wonderful event, a yearly, annual event, lighting the menorah with our dear governor. (Applause)
There is a saying, we have to listen to the candles, listen to the candles of hope. In our history, many thousands of years ago, there were a couple of hundred men fighting for freedom the mightiest army in the world. But they listened to the candle, there was hope and they were victorious.
It is told to us that General George Washington, when he was fighting the war, saw a Jewish soldier lighting a candle in the dark and he asked him, "What are you doing here?" And he explained to him, this is the tradition and he shared with the general the story of Hanukah. After the war the general invited him and said, "You gave me strength."
We have to listen, no matter what we hear, downturn, upturn. It's optimistic, there is hope. We have to keep strong. This is what I love about our dear friend the Governor, always optimistic and always upbeat. And there will be miracles of Hanukah because we're upbeat. When God sees that you're upbeat and strong like a Hanukah candle, he showers you with blessings. When you go with a down nose, downturned, downturned, that's when you have, God forbid, downturn. We have to be upbeat with belief and confidence in God.
So mazel tov to all of you who have assembled here, all the wonderful friends. God bless you, God bless you. God shower us with miracles. (Applause)
It is now my privilege and honor to call upon the Consul General of Israel, a very dear friend of us all and a personal friend, Akiva Tor, who is carrying the torch. And God should bless the state of Israel with their optimism and may they all have blessing. Akiva, shalom, thank you.
Consul General Tor:
Shalom. (Applause) Governor of the state of California, (Inaudible) Chabad in Sacramento and throughout California, Jewish community of Sacramento, citizens of California of every race and creed, friends of freedom and light everywhere.
Last year at this time we were in a very dark moment. It was only three weeks after the terrorist attack which took the lives of almost 200 people including Gabriel and Rivka Holtzberg and six others killed in the Chabad house in Mumbai, a place of spirit and friendship deliberately targeted by terrorists. At that time we understood intuitively that Chabad, a movement which has connected so, so clearly with Hanukkah, the Festival of Light, was attacked by forces which know only darkness, ignorance and the tools of hate. Your Chabad, nichim, honored schlukim, please rebuild that house in Mumbai. Never, ever, lose heart. Please restore that outpost of light. We mustn't forget the tragedy and the victims but darkness cannot prevail. (Applause)
I would like to thank the Governor of California for his leadership and very concrete actions to create light and to promote freedom and independence. On his recent trip to Israel -- it was less than 24 hours and we need to get you there for a longer period -- the Governor signed a memorandum of understanding between California and the state of Israel for cooperation in the development of new sources of alternative, clean energy. Governor, if the Maccabees were here today they would be seeking not only pure olive oil for the temple, which by the way is a fuel low in carbon footprint, (Laughter) but also they would be seeking new ways of producing clean energy not based on petroleum and gas, which pollute our planet and enrich the tyrant. They would have pursued this endeavor because their movement's goals were freedom and independence and without clean energy independence no society will truly be free.
So Governor Schwarzenegger, on this Festival of Light and freedom I want to thank you again for bringing the innovation and entrepreneurial skills of Californians and Israelis together so that we can be Maccabeans together. I promise you that the Israeli Consulate will do everything we can to take the memorandum which you gave to us and to make its intentions real.
Friends, (Hebrew) we have come to expel darkness in Mumbai, in California, in Israel, everywhere. (Hebrew) (Applause)
The Governor loves the Tiny Tots Choir, remember, from the first year. Let's call the Tiny Tots Choir with their special two instructors, Leah and Bella from France, two wonderful girls. We'd like to call them up to come -- where are they singing? Where is the choir? And we also want to -- OK. We also want to thank all the rabbis, Rabbi Korik from Roseville, Rabbi Brod from Stockton, Rabbi Bronstein from Davis, all the outposts over here who helped put this wonderful school, God bless them and the Rabbi (Inaudible) and Rabbi Grossman, all the wonderful rabbis. And the Tiny Tots are coming with their wonderful candles. (Applause)
Bravo, bravo. They may be a little shy but they're going to grow up to be wonderful candles and beacons of light. Thank you, Governor, for your love for children and education. (Applause)
I would like to call upon Rabbi Chaim Cunin, representing his father, Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, director of 300 centers, Chabad centers, centers of light throughout the state. Rabbi Cunin, to call the Governor.
Thank you, Rabbi Cohen. Happy Hanukkah, everybody. Before I start I just want to say a very special thank you to our dear governor. Of course the weather has been not particularly kind to us this morning in terms of an outdoor event and the Governor suggested, "Well, maybe we should have it indoors." And what a wonderful, beautiful idea and here we are enjoying the warmth and the beauty of our State Capitol. And this being our 16th year but it is our first time having the ceremony indoors, so thank you very much for that. (Applause)
I also want to take a moment to thank all of the organizers who each year put so much time and hard work into making it happen. Rabbi Cohen and Rebbetzin Cohen, Rabbi Bottleman (Phonetic), sterling Sid Engle and his wonderful orchestra and the beautiful children, their sweet voices. Thank you again.
The Hebrew word Hanukkah, which we celebrate tonight, means dedication. It commemorates the rededication of our holy temple in Jerusalem after it was seized and occupied by Greek oppressors. The year was 140 B.C.E., when Jews of ancient Israel rebelled against the ruling Greek Empire that persecuted them just because of their faith. A small Jewish army of Maccabees regained control of the temple, restoring its holy activities. The Maccabees lit the Menorah using a single day's worth of oil and miraculously it burned for eight days. Ever since, we celebrate Hanukkah to honor the triumphant rededication of our holy temple and the miracle of the oil and that's what we're here to celebrate today.
The Festival of Lights has come to symbolize the powerful, universal theme of freedom defeating oppression and of light overcoming darkness. Our Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, teaches us to defy darkness with light. These are definitely challenging times and they call for increased optimism, more joy and abundant light. To celebrate that light I invite Rabbi Cohen and my fellow Chabad representatives -- Mr. Lyle Weisman and Seraphina, his daughter -- to join me in a very special presentation for our dear Governor, for himself and the people of the great state of California.
My father, Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, the head of Chabad in California and the Rebbe's personal emissary, asked me to present this menorah so that you may join the over 200 Chabad branches in California and 4,000 worldwide who we commit ourselves each Hanukkah to bring more light, more education, more assistance to people in need throughout the world and to all the people here in the state of California. As the leader of our great state and in recognition of your strong commitment and determination to bring light to every Californian, especially in these challenging times, we present to you, dear Governor, an ancient tool of light, wisdom and understanding, an ancient tool of freedom, with our blessing and prayer that the message of this menorah and its influence will perpetuate throughout your leadership to spread light where there is darkness, to offer hope, guidance and assistance where there is challenge and despair. Our dear Governor. (Applause)
Presented for Hanukkah to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the people of California by Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, Chabad of California, December 11th, 2009, with the quotation, "The tallest candle in the menorah is the one that serves to kindle others." By the Rebbe. Thank you, Governor.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, thank you very much, we really appreciate that. And Rabbi Cunin, thank you very much for this wonderful gift. We have been doing this now and celebrating Hanukkah for many years, since I have become governor of the great state of California. And I remember the first year I got those candles and they said, "Take this menorah and put it in your office." And I put it in my office. And then the second year they said, "Here is one, take it in your office." So now I have all the rooms in my office filled with Menorah candles. (Applause) And you can never have enough, you can never have enough of the Menorah lights, because as we always say that it should light around the globe, we should light the whole globe. So thank you so much for your generosity and for the great work that you are doing.
And it is great to have all of you back here again, because it is always so much fun to celebrate here with all of you and to celebrate Hanukkah. And so I want to say shalom and happy Hanukkah go everybody here today and also to the whole state of California, to all the people. (Applause) This is such a wonderful moment.
And of course we always start with the Christmas tree lighting the day before .Yesterday we lit the Christmas tree, which was the 53-foot Christmas tree, wonderful and we had hundreds of people here. Today we hundreds of people and we continue the celebration and we are celebrating Hanukkah today.
And it is really wonderful, because we will light the Menorah light. We will be the first one to do a lighting here and then there will be 300 public Menorah lightings all around the state of California and we are really looking forward to that. (Applause) Because this light will begin right here and it will be spread up and down the Central Valley, it will be spread from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Sierra Nevada and from our redwoods in northern California to the beaches of southern California, we will light those Menorahs. And as the light of Hanukkah spreads, so will the strength, unity, courage and perseverance and triumph. That is the Jewish tradition and that is exactly how we're going to change the world. It is our duty to share that light with one another and until we have illuminated the entire world, as I said earlier.
And right now, of course, this light is very important because, as you have already heard the Rabbi say, these are very difficult times worldwide. This has been, the last two years, the biggest recession since the Great Depression and people are hurting all around the world and also here in California. People have been losing their businesses, people have been losing their homes, people have been losing money, they have losing their jobs. So I think there are many people in this state that don't even have enough money for food. They don't even have enough money for clothes for their children.
And this is why it is so important that our hearts go out to them and that we are all helping each other here in these very difficult times. And this is why Maria and I, we announced yesterday that we have a food drive, that we are donating food for a million people in California with the California food banks so that we can help people in this difficult time. (Applause)
But of course Chabad has been known for being very giving and working for the community and doing an endless amount of things. And they also this year again, they have a reverse toy drive that is going to be very, very successful. It was also very successful last year. And today we will help Rabbi Cunin and all the other rabbis and everyone here together to hand out and distribute gifts, that we will be handing out right after my speech. We will be giving gifts and then we hope that all of you are going to give those gifts and share it with other people. Share those gifts with people that are less fortunate, or maybe people that are in the hospital or with children that are in need.
I think this is a responsibility that we have. Let's go and do it and help each other in this very difficult time. Hanukkah means dedication, that's what Hanukkah means. And of course I know that the people of California are dedicated to each other and they're dedicated to their great state. And of course this is the most beautiful place in the world, even though it's a little bit drizzling outside and even though these are very difficult economic times right now. But it is the best place to live in the world by far. (Applause) And Californians have such an amazing spirit.
And so today as we pause and light the Menorah, we want to also pause a little bit and just let us be thankful. Let us be thankful for all those things that we have. Let us be thankful that we live in this great place and also for the light that will lead us forward and may it be seen all around the world.
So thank you very much, all of you, for being here today and enjoy the festivities. And now let's hand out some gifts, right? Very nice. (Applause)
And to bring light to the entire California we're going to sing (Inaudible)
The same God that made miracles in those days may make miracles for all of us. In our times, when our state, our governor, will light the Menorah.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
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