AG Garland speaks on faith, perseverance against antisemitism at National Menorah Lighting

From left, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov and Attorney General Merrick Garland participate in the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
From left, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov and Attorney General Merrick Garland participate in the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Attorney General Merrick Garland accompanied by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting, in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Attorney General Merrick Garland accompanied by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting, in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
A person in a dreidel costume performs during the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
A person in a dreidel costume performs during the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Attorney General Merrick Garland accompanied by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Attorney General Merrick Garland accompanied by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
People at the National Menorah Lighting
People gathered before the massive Menorah at the Ellipse, which is near the White House, on the National Mall for the first night of Hanukkah Dec. 18, 2022. (WTOP/Stetson Miller)
People gather for the National Menorah Lighting
People gathered before the massive Menorah at the Ellipse, which is near the White House, on the National Mall for the first night of Hanukkah Dec. 18, 2022. (WTOP/Stetson Miller)
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From left, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov and Attorney General Merrick Garland participate in the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Attorney General Merrick Garland accompanied by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting, in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
A person in a dreidel costume performs during the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Attorney General Merrick Garland accompanied by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
People at the National Menorah Lighting
People gather for the National Menorah Lighting

Sunday evening marked the beginning of Hanukkah, and people celebrated the night at the annual National Menorah Lighting at the Ellipse near the White House.

However, after recent hateful incidents in the D.C. area, fears of antisemitism was also on the minds of some who attended.



The massive national menorah now shines brightly in front of the White House after it was lit up in front many, including U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“May we never stop working to ensure that Americans will always be able to gather today as we are doing tonight to light the menorah in our nation’s capital and under the protection of its laws,” Garland said.

While Garland was there to celebrate the kick off of the Festival of Lights, he also called for people to fight against hate and violence toward the Jewish people and faith.

“We must stand up against the disturbing rise in antisemitism,” Garland said.

Garland said his grandmother likely would have died in the Holocaust had the U.S. not offered her refuge.

“As a descendant of those who fled persecution because they were Jewish, it is especially meaningful to be here tonight as we light this menorah,” Garland said.

Recent disturbing acts of hate were unfortunately on the minds of some people at the event. In Montgomery County, which is adjacent to D.C., school officials found vandalism and antisemitic graffiti this weekend on a sign at Walt Whitman High School.

One of the attendees, Al Schwartz, said that recent hate crimes in the area made it important for him to attend the ceremony.

“With the incidents in Montgomery County over the last two or three days, I said I have to come out and show my support,” Schwartz said.

Hanukkah is an eight day observance that begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev within the Hebrew calendar. Because most of the world goes by the common use Gregorian calendar, the holiday begins on different dates each year.

This year, Hanukkah began at sundown on Dec. 18 and will end at sunset on Dec. 26.

At the ceremony, Garland said all Americans have a moral obligation to stand up against hate and bigotry in any of its forms.

WTOP’s Joshua Barlow contributed to this story.

Stetson Miller

Stetson Miller is an anchor and reporter for WTOP. He has worked in TV newsrooms for the last several years in New York, Baltimore, Washington and Charleston, SC.

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