The first Jewish spouse of a president or a vice president, Emhoff has publicly highlighted various tenets of his faith while his wife is in office.
The tradition of the lighting dates back to 1979 when President Jimmy Carter was in office. But it was President Ronald Reagan who officially designated the candelabrum the National Menorah.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden, a deeply religious man himself, spoke at the ceremony in 2014.
“The truth is that Jewish heritage, Jewish culture, Jewish values are an essential, such an essential part of who we are,” Biden said at the time, donning a black Yamaka. “It’s fair to say that Jewish heritage is American heritage. That’s who we are as a people.”
The lighting serves as catalyst — jump starting the “Festival of Lights” across the country and globe, according to the National Menorah website.
The holiday ceremony draws in tens of millions of viewers, they say, cementing it as a symbol for the start of the Hanukkah celebrations.
“In this way, we reaffirm the celebration of our freedom, inspired by the historic and present victory of right over might, light over darkness, and understanding and justice over intolerance and bigotry,” the National Menorah’s website says.