VP Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff made history by hanging a mezuzah, which is an important parchment in Judaism, on the doorway of their D.C. home ahead of the holiday season.
In January 2021, Kamala Harris made history when she became the first woman, as well as the first woman of color, to become vice president of the United States. Her husband Doug Emhoff is the country’s first second gentleman, and also the first Jewish person to live in the vice presidential residence at Number One Observatory Circle in Washington D.C. Ahead of Hanukkah, which starts on the evening on November 28, Kamala and Doug, both 57, made history once again by being the first couple to hang a mezuzah — a piece of parchment contained in a decorative case and inspired with Hebrew verses from the Torah — on the doorway of an executive home.
Rabbi Peter Berg of Hebrew Benevolent Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia, lent the mezuzah to Kamala and Doug, and he performed the private ceremony at the Naval Observatory in October, according to CNN. “It’s an extraordinary moment in United States history,” Peter told CNN. “And it was one of the great honors of my lifetime to be able to stand there with the second family as they placed that mezuzah on their home for the very first time.” Peter also said that when he “started talking” during the ceremony, “we all teared up because of the significance and the history.”
Doug marked the historic moment on Nov. 20 by sharing photos on Twitter of he and Kamala, as well Doug’s parents Michael and Barbara Emhoff, hanging the mezuzah up at their home. “For us, and for everyone, Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on the past year,” he said. “One of my favorite memories was when our family visited and together we hung a mezuzah on the front door of the Vice President’s Residence.”
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The mezuzah ceremony is the latest instance that Kamala and Doug have honored Judaism since Inauguration Day. In March, Doug led the White House’s first-ever Passover event that was live-streamed for the whole country to watch, according to CNN. The virtual event also included pre-recorded remarks from President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. “This year, as we dip our greens in salt water and pour out our ceremonial wine and eat our bitter herbs, let us commit, once again, to repairing the world,” Kamala said at the ceremony.
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