President Barack Obama will continue his tradition of celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover next week when he hosts a seder for family, friends and staff on Tuesday evening, April 15th, the White House announced today.
“On Tuesday, the President and the First Lady will mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House with friends and staff,” the White House said.
The President has celebrated the holiday each year since taking office with a dinner in the Old Family Dining Room. Between 16 and 18 guests typically join the President and First Lady Michelle Obama and the kids for the closed-press event.
The Obama Pesach menus in past years have variously included gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzoh balls, braised beef brisket, roasted chicken, potato kugel, carrot soufflé, sweet potato-carrot tzimmes, and asparagus. Piles of matzoh, hard boiled eggs, bitter herbs and charoset are on the table, according to Obama food Orama blog. For dessert, there is some combination of brown sugar macaroons, matzoh chocolate cake, and apricot sponge cake.
The menus for past years have been described by the White House as “kosher style,” but the kitchen is not necessarily kashered, which does go on for the President and Mrs. Obama’s Hanukkah parties.
Obama’s first seder took place at the bleakest point of the campaign, when he struggled to overcome Hillary during the long primaries and the video of Jeremiah Wright emerged. “We were in the desert, so to speak,” Arun Chaudhary, then and now Mr. Obama’s videographer, told the nY Times in 2010.
“One evening in April 2008, three low-level staff members from the Obama presidential campaign — a baggage handler, a videographer and an advance man — gathered in the windowless basement of a Pennsylvania hotel for an improvised Passover Seder,” the NY Times recounted. “Suddenly they heard a familiar voice. “Hey, is this the Seder?” Barack Obama asked, entering the room.”
After the pledge that ends the traditional seder, “next year in Jerusalem,” candidate Obama raised his glass and declared, “Next year in the White House,” the Jewish Daily Forward recounted.
During a speech in Jerusalem last year, President Obama The president told an audience of young people at the Jerusalem International Convention Center that the Passover story has a special resonance to him, as an African-American. “To African Americans, the story of the Exodus was perhaps the central story, the most powerful image about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement into today,” he said. “For me, personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world and without firm roots, the story spoke to a yearning within every human being for a home.”