The day they had been waiting for was finally here.
Dressed in festive costumes to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, students of Kadima Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills gathered in their schoolyard Monday for the West Coast unveiling of the first Hanukkah stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
Last year, the students had mounted a letter-writing campaign lobbying government officials for the stamp. Throughout the years, the Postal Service had received thousands of requests for a Hanukkah stamp. But it was only after receiving the letters and designs from Kadima's 300 students that Postmaster General Marvin Runyon issued one.
The celebration was tempered by the recent bombings in Israel. As Jewish people everywhere struggled to understand the renewed campaign of violence raging in the Mideast, Kadima Headmaster George Lebovitz said, it was a good time to reflect on the importance of religious freedom.
"Getting this stamp reminds us that we live in a free country where we can express our opinions and we can be proud to say that we are Jewish," Lebovitz said.
The stamp was unveiled by Runyon at the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum in Washington. The stamp will be a joint issue with Israel.
The design, featuring a colorful menorah on a white background, is the handiwork of Hannah Smotrich, a graphic designer at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington.
The Postal Service will print 142 million of the Hanukkah stamps in self-adhesive sheets of 50 stamps and ship them to local post offices this fall.