Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pesach at the White House

I was pleased to read in the paper about the White House Seder, a new tradition that Obama has started. Apparently when he was on the campaign trail in 2008, he got wind of a little seder that was being held by a trio of low-level Jewish folks working on the campaign who were stranded out on the campaign trail with him on the first night of Pesach. (One of them was a baggage handler.) As the trio sat down to their seder, Obama appeared and joined them. At the end of the seder, when they proclaimed “Next Year in Jerusalem,” they added “Next Year in the White House.” And so it was. Last year, during his first spring as President, Obama had a small private seder at the White House. He invited friends, not dignitaries or celebrity rabbis. His Jewish friends who attended gave family recipes for traditional foods to the White House chefs. Apparently there was a bit of a ruckus when one friend turned up at the gate for the seder with macaroons brought from Chicago. No outside food is allowed into the White House, for fear of poisoning. Official policy. When Obama threatened to go to the gate and walk the macaroons in himself, an official was sent to bring them in. I presume someone tasted them first to make sure they weren’t poisoned. (We do that at our house too when we bring in treats.) When I first read the reference to the “macaroon controversy” in the newspaper, I thought there had been a debate about whether chocolate or plain were tastier. (Chocolate, all the way.) I love the White House seder. I confess that it means a lot to me that the President sits down to a seder. Pesach is my favorite holiday and the one that is most meaningful to me. Glad to see that it means something to the President and First Lady too.

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