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The History of the White House Hanukkah Party

In 2020, the Trump White House held indoor Hanukkah parties despite CDC warnings against large gatherings. Trump only attended the evening reception.

A Hanukkah reception at the White House in 2018.

A Hanukkah reception at the White House in 2018.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Then-chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump, Stephanie Grisham, told Insider in a statement that masks would be required and provided at the events, hand-sanitizing stations would be set up, chefs would serve food from behind plexiglass barriers, and that the guest lists were “smaller.” She did not respond to Insider’s questions about the exact number of invited guests. 


According to the Times of Israel, Trump attended only the evening Hanukkah reception, where he falsely claimed that with the help of “certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage, we are going to win this election.” Joe Biden had already been declared the winner the previous month.

Three days after the party, vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee Tom Mountain was hospitalized with COVID-19, which he attributed to his attendance at the event.

“Let’s put it this way: When I went down to Washington, DC, for the White House Hanukkah event, I was perfectly fine,” Mountain told NBC affiliate WJAR. “And three days later after that event, I was in the hospital … ready to be put on a lifesaving ventilator.”

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