The United States has a history of recognizing and celebrating Hanukkah in a number of ways, from menorah lighting ceremonies to a 1996 postage stamp, jointly issued with Israel, to special receptions in the White House (although the United States has not had any Jewish presidents).
One of the earliest links with the White House occurred in 1951, when Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion presented United States President Harry Truman with a Hanukkah Menorah. But it was not until 1979 that a sitting president, Jimmy Carter took part in a public Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on the National Mall, followed by the first Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony in the White House itself, led by President Bill Clinton.
In 2001, President George W. Bush held an official Hanukkah reception in the White House in conjunction with the candle-lighting ceremony, and since then this ceremony has become an annual tradition attended by Jewish leaders from around the country. In 2008, George Bush linked the occasion to the 1951 gift by using that menorah for the ceremony, with a grandson of Ben-Gurion and a grandson of Truman lighting the candles.