Obama White House Will Host Its Second Passover Seder

By Barney Breen-Portnoy (Haaretz)

Published March 28, 2010.

As Jews throughout the world gather for Passover seders on Monday evening, the world’s most prominent political leader will be hosting one of his own.

For the second straight year, U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a seder at the White House with a group of family members, aides and friends.

Among those expected to be in attendance are senior advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett as well as first lady Michelle and Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia.

Passover begins at sundown on Monday and celebrates the Jewish exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery. The holiday concludes at sundown on Tuesday April 6th.

This year, Obama will have just returned home from a strenuous journey. The president may doze off before the fourth cup of wine because of jet lag from his surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, where he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military personnel.

The Obama seder tradition began three years ago on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania. Three staffers had gathered for a makeshift seder when they were joined by Obama, who at the time was in the midst of a bitter campaign against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

Obama is said to have identified then with the Exodus story’s theme of liberation.

Last year at the White House, the seder meal included matza, gefilte fish, bitter herbs, a roasted egg and greens in the family dining room in the executive mansion. The main course was brisket.

The presidential seder also included readings from the Haggadah, the religious text of the holiday meal. Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia asked the four questions and also found the afikomen.

The White House seder is a private affair, with no Jewish leaders on the guest list.

Given recent tensions between the U.S. and Israel over construction in East Jerusalem, there will no doubt be some in the room who smile with irony at the traditional seder-ending declaration: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”



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