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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rafael Shifren of Carmel Valley had a starring role Tuesday at the lighting of the National Menorah near the White House on the first night of Hanukkah.

The fifth-grader at Chabad Hebrew Academy in Scripps Ranch read his winning essay on the meaning of Hanukkah before thousands of people who attended the event.
The ceremony, started in 1979, honors the eight-day Jewish holiday. The national menorah was lit Tuesday by Jack Lew, White House budget manager. (Mr. Lew was just appointed Chief of Staff to President Obama)

Shifren, 10, won the National Menorah Essay Contest. His essay was chosen the best among several thousand entries from Jewish elementary-school students across the country. The theme was “What Hanukkah means to me.”

Shifren was accompanied to Washington, D.C., by his parents, Gary and Robyn Shifren. They found out Friday that their son had won the contest, his mother said.

Robyn Shifren said that she was so proud of her son’s reading. “It was so sweet,” she said.

The rabbi asked her son if he was nervous as he got on the podium, she said. His short response: “Possibly.”

© Copyright 2012 The San Diego Union-Tribune

CHA places great emphasis on writing and effective communication skills which are promoted through multiple programs and constant staff development on the subject. One of the most important life skills of a leader are effective communication of complex concepts and ideas. We are proud of this great honor and recognition of CHA's talent and cutting edge systems in this field. Congratulations to all!

What Chanukah Means To Me
What Chanukah means to me,
Is the right to be free,
From the battle of light vs. dark,
To the miracle of the oil with only a spark,
With Hashem we believe,
Hashem is our master to all including me.
It means to keep the the Torah in your heart,
With it you shall never part,
But if you feel like you are drifting away,
Just go to shul and to Hashem you will pray.
That's what Chanukah means to me.
The right of religion.
The right to be free.

By Rafael S
5th Grade
Chabad Hebrew Academy