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5 powerful moments from the Obamas' final White House Hanukkah celebration.

For the eighth and final time, President Obama and the first lady welcomed guests to the White House for a Hanukkah reception.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish rebellion, led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers against their Greek-Syrian oppressors. After their victory, Judah Maccabee hoped to light an eternal flame to rededicate the Second Temple in Jerusalem, but could only find one vessel of oil. Led by faith, the Jewish people lit the oil, and according to sacred texts, it burned for eight days.

Today, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a candle on a menorah each night. The Obamas and the White House marked the occasion — this time with two Hanukkah receptions in the East Room.


Mika Almog lights a menorah and Rabbi Rachel Isaacs says a blessing during a Hanukkah reception at the White House. Photo by Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images.

The Obamas welcomed honored guests to join together to light the White House menorahs.

The events were held Dec. 14, 10 days before the start of Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on Dec. 24 this year.

At the afternoon event, the Obamas were joined by the family of Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, critically acclaimed author, Nobel laureate, and educator who passed away in July. President Obama lit a menorah made by Wiesel’s granddaughter Shira when she was in kindergarten. In the evening, the family of the late Shimon Peres was on hand to light a treasured family menorah.

Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images.

The events also featured Rabbi Steven Exler of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale; Rabbi Rachel Isaacs of Colby College; Koleinu, Princeton University’s Jewish a cappella group; a Hanukkah themed "Hamilton" parody from Six13; prayers, wishes for peace, and plenty of fun decorations.

A snowman with a yarmulke is seen at the White House. Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images.

But it was President Obama’s words that offered a powerful message of hope to people of all faith traditions.

In his remarks, Obama outlined the many positive contributions Jewish people have made in the fight for equality and freedom. From Selma and Stonewall to opening their hearts and homes to refugees, Jewish people have acted with courage, conviction, and strength in the face of adversity. While their story is not unique, there's so much we can learn from the their resilience and optimism.

Here are five of my favorites from President Obama's remarks:

1. “Today in the White House ... we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons:  how a small group can make a big difference.”

Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images)

2. “Even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have.”

Rabbi Steven Exler takes the stage with the president and first lady. Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images.

3. “This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom.”

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs joins the president and first lady on stage. Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images.

4. “We teach our children that even in our darkest moments, a stubborn flame of hope flickers and miracles are possible."

Photo by Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images.

5. “Through centuries of exile and persecution, and even the genocide families like the Wiesels endured, the Hanukkah candles have been kindled. Each wick an answer to the wicked. Each light a signal to the world that yours is an inextinguishable faith.”

The granddaughter and son of  Shimon Peres, one of Israel's founding fathers, light the menorah. Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images.

At holiday time and always, that's an important thing to remember: If we stand together, we can defeat even the toughest oppressors.

Just as the Maccabees rededicated the temple, we can take a moment this season to rededicate ourselves to being good neighbors and citizens, to leading with kindness and compassion. Because when we come together as a community and a country, there's nothing we can't accomplish.

Chemi Peres, son of Shimon Peres, and Mika Almog, granddaughter of Shimon Peres, during the Hanukkah reception. Photo by Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash/ @camerconstewart_uk/Instagram

"Sometimes it pays to learn a language!"

It feels safe to assume that if money were no object, people would always choose to travel business class over economy. After all, who doesn’t want a fast check-in, fancy food and drink choices and more of that sweet, spacious legroom?

However, at anywhere between four to ten times the price of a regular economy ticket, this style of traveling remains a fantasy for many who simply can’t afford it.

Luckily, thanks to one man’s clever travel hack, that fantasy might be more achievable than we realize.

Cameron Stewart, a British photojournalist and camera operator, recently shared how he was able to score business class tickets at a fraction of the price, simply by switching the website language from English to Spanish.
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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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