As an estimated two million people descended on Washington, D.C., for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, offices throughout the Beltway were abuzz with preparations for the incoming administration.

On Embassy Row, where foreign diplomatic missions held receptions for U.S. power brokers, the staff of the city’s Chabad-Lubavitch center helped many Jewish attendees of the inaugural festivities arrange kosher food and lodging. But on Monday, Rabbi Levi and Nechama Shemtov presided over a celebration of an entirely different sort as the capital kicked into high gear: the ritual circumcision of their new son, Sholom Bentzion.

With ambassadors from several different nations joining senior government officials and congressional staffers for the occasion, the circumcision occupied a rare non-inaugural position on the D.C. social circuit. But the rabbi, who as the Washington director of American Friends of Lubavitch maintains relationships with numerous politicos and the city’s Jewish community, was quickly back at work Monday evening, stopping at a downtown reception hosted by several national Jewish organization where he met with aides to the new president.

On Tuesday, Shemtov offered his thoughts on the inauguration from a seat several rows from the podium used by Obama to take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address.

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen in this city, and there’s a lot of positive feeling in the air,” remarked Shemtov, “further underscoring the fact that this country has a tremendous opportunity at this moment. President Obama has noted that America coming together has always been able to do amazing things. And with so many challenges facing the United States, we hope and pray that he will be successful in bringing everyone together to help herald a mutually greater and brighter time.”