A top infectious-disease expert from Long Island helped light the menorah late Wednesday afternoon at a White House Hanukkah celebration.
Dr. Aaron Glatt, chair of the department of medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, who is also an associate rabbi at Young Israel of Woodmere, attended the 5:30 p.m. ceremony with his wife, Margie.
"It's really a tribute to all the people that have been dealing with this pandemic," Glatt told Newsday before the event. The veteran infectious-disease doctor has seen firsthand the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hard work of health care professionals in their efforts to help patients.
Glatt joined U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, and community leader Susie Stern to light the menorah.
During the ceremony, President Joe Biden credited Glatt for being a "champion in encouraging his congregants and his community to get vaccinated."
"And I also love [Glatt's] description of Hanukkah," Biden said. "He said and I quote 'the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is Thanksgiving on steroids.' "
Glatt and his wife live in Woodmere and have been married for 41 years and have four adult children as well as grandchildren.
"I'm personally honored as the son of Holocaust survivors to be in a country that is quite different than the country that my parents of blessed memory grew up in — a country that stands in stark contrast to Nazi Germany," he said. "To be able to live in and be raised in a country that protects freedom of religion and allows us to openly worship is a wonderful thing."
Glatt said being both a physician and a rabbi influences and dramatically impacts the way he handles both jobs.
"I enjoy both very much and get a tremendous comfort from knowing that hopefully I am helping people," he said. "It’s an honor to be both."