Obama defends freedom of religion at White House Hanukkah events

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware  |  Dec. 14, 2016 at 7:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday oversaw his final Hanukkah receptions at the White House, where a menorah owned by the family of late Israeli President Shimon Peres was lit.

Peres' son, Chemi, and granddaughter, Mika Almog, attended the ceremony Wednesday afternoon. Another celebration was held at 7:35 p.m. EST.

"Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition -- proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be -- and defending the rights of others who do the same," Obama said at the afternoon event.

"The world lost my friend [Peres] this year, it lost a keeper of our collective conscience, but we could not be more honored today to be joined by his beloved family."

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