Obama’s Whitehouse Seder


By now everyone knows that President Obama held a historic private seder at the Whitehouse for friends, Whitehouse employees and their families. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times gives us a Who’s who of the attendees:

From the President’s left is Samantha Tubman (she came to the original one in Harrisburg and now works for Social Secretary Desiree Rogers)…. Next to Tubman is Melissa Winter (deputy chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama) then First daughters Sasha, and Malia, then the First Lady.

Next to the First Lady is deputy White House counsel Susan Sher, and next to Susan Sher (out of view) are her sons Evan Moore and Michael Cohen, top White House advisor Valerie Jarrett and Obama pal and University of Chicago Medical Center honcho Eric Whitaker (who you can’t see).

On the other side of the table, to the President’s immediate right, is Susan Sher’s husband Neil Cohen. Next to him is Laura Moser (Arun Chaudhary wife), then White House videographer Arun Chaudhary, Vice President Biden aide Herbie Ziskend (Chaudhary and Ziskend were at Harrisburg) Eric Lesser, Lesser’s father, Martin Lesser, Deputy Director of Advance Lisa Kohnke, Mrs. Obama’s personal aide, Dana Lewis, and Obama personal assistant Reggie Love.

The White House used the Maxwell House Hagaddah for the seder. Maxwell House was the first Kosher for Passover certified coffee in 1923. Ten years later, the (M)ad men at Maxwell House chanced upon the idea of including a free Haggadah with every can of Maxwell House purchased, in what would turn out to be the longest and most successful promotion of its kind in advertising history. You’ll notice (if you look at the high res image) that President Obama is at the Pesach Matza U Maror page while Samantha Tubman is on Dayenu. You’ll also notice that each guest has their own seder plate and that some of the guests are wearing kippas and some aren’t. Oh well… the food was a “Kosher Style” according to the LA Times and you know what that means (treiff!). But whatever, it was a private affair so I’m not judging. Really.

If I were to be judgmental I’d talk about Obama’s new dog. The dog’s previous owners called it Charlie and Charlie has some serious yichus (lineage). Charlie is a Portugese water dog and comes from the same lineage as Sunny and Splash, the beloved dogs of Ted Kennedy. Wait, what? Ted Kennedy has a dog called Splash?? Oh Jesus. Hello Chappaquidick? Whatever, happy Passover…

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27 Comments

  1. froylein

    4/11/2009 at 5:35 pm

    What I find most amusing is that American Jews have macaroons for Passover as “Makronen” (MAndelKRONEN = almond crowns; coconut’s a later and cheaper variety) are a German Xmas treat that denotes Jesus as the “king of kings”. Just sayin’.

  2. Cat K

    4/11/2009 at 5:49 pm

    Hey there Froylein as much as you may like to own all my stuff (just sayin’ – based on your silly name) – any can eat a food. Macaroons do not require leavening & are popular as a Passover treat! They do NOT symbolize German Christmas when eaten during Passover (what are you smoking?) but I am happy if German people enjoy the same treat at Christmas.
    Little history lesson: There used to be many, many Jews in Germany & surrounding area. So, many foods & language are similar! Therefore you embarass yourself & qualify as a dumbkupf!
    I am sure you & your views would be welcomed at seder pictured here!

  3. froylein

    4/11/2009 at 5:59 pm

    First of all, I don’t care in the slightest what you eat, but the origin of macaroons has it that they are German Xmas treats that symbolize Jesus. There’s a variety of other pastries that do not require leavening through either yeast, sour dough or baking soda (as the leavening effect of fresh eggs is not considered leavening in the traditional sense and is therefore kosher for Pessach). I’m about the last person to argue that Jews and Christians had not influenced each other in matters of culture, particularly in Germany, but those influences have never been a one-way-street only.
    So, your apparent misreading of what I’d stated above should sufficiently serve as an embarrassment to you.

  4. sheela

    4/11/2009 at 6:11 pm

    Um… according to several sources I’ve looked at, “macaroons” originally came from France (“macaron”), and were adopted by Italian Jews as a permissible Passover treat due to the fact that they didn’t require flour or yeast. There’s no mention of German “mandelkronen” anywhere, at least not as a predecessor to the modern-day macaroon found (and usually eschewed) at your typical American Jewish Passover seder.

  5. froylein

    4/11/2009 at 6:17 pm

    And all sources I’ve got at hand on the origin of the pastry say what I mentioned above. The Italian equivalent to non-leavened almond cookies, so to speak as they differ in size and with their ideally perfectly round shape, are amarettini.

  6. froylein

    4/11/2009 at 6:20 pm

    Noteworthily, the French macaron looks like amarettini (close to what the Ancient Romans called “crustulum”) and not like macaroons eaten at Pessach in America, which look identical to the German Makronen and their intentional crown-shape (e.g. by Oberlander).
    An obvious adoption of an Italian pastry is cantuccini / mandlbroyt, which – even though the Yiddish name might suggest such – has got no equivalent in German cuisine closer than “Zwieback”, which only resembles cantuccini as they get baked twice to make them more durable.

  7. Pingback: President Obama Hosts First Seder in White House by a Sitting President « Jews’ Next Dor

  8. Larry

    4/12/2009 at 1:30 am

    Here I was in NYC, munching my Streit’s matzos, dipping them in KforP whipped cream cheese, waiting for Shabbat to end so that I could post my story on the seder with the high resolution foto showing the Maxwell House haggadot, the same that I used this year, highlighting the heavy cleavage of one of the guests… but, sigh, our man in Yerushalayim beat me to the punch. Next year in JERUSALEM!, where Shabbat ends earlier than in NYC. No worries.. I have a backup post that I will finish on SUnday

  9. Ephraim

    4/12/2009 at 2:04 am

    I don’t get it. Why would Obama have a “Seder”? Just to kiss up to Jews to soften his almost certainly inevitable selling of Israel down the river? (I don’t hate the Jews! I mean, I had a Seder, you know. In the White House, man!“)

    I hate publicity stunts in general, and this just reeks. I suppose I’m supposed to be touched, but if that was Obama’s intention, it had the opposite effect on me, at any rate.

  10. froylein

    4/12/2009 at 3:32 am

    Larry, go far-East next year. :)

    Ephraim, I don’t know how Americans perceive it, but I couldn’t help but be surprised: maybe due to a lapsus, maybe due to April Fool’s, journalists that were scheduled for a phone conference with Hillary Clinton were connected to a phone sex line. When those journalists inquired what had happened, the White House replied there were more important things to concern oneself with e.g. the state of the economy. Oddly enough, that week and the weeks before the news were loaded with the Presidential outfits, gifts to foreign heads-of-state, vegetable garden, the girls’ bedtime stories etc.

  11. Tom Morrissey

    4/12/2009 at 4:06 am

    I’ll gladly vote for him if he’s photographed eating a chocolate bunny today.

  12. froylein

    4/12/2009 at 5:03 am

    Tom, do you eat ears or bottom first? I’d think ears would be more humane…

  13. deborah

    4/12/2009 at 6:56 am

    Nice to see the who’s who there. Only photo I’ve seen.

    Here’s a little Haggadah humor on my Apr 9 HuffPo huffingtonpost...

  14. froylein

    4/12/2009 at 9:09 am

    Sweet deal, Deborah. Reminds me of mini sagas, now squeeze the entire Exodus story into 50 words. ;)

  15. Yonah

    4/12/2009 at 9:31 am

    I’d like to thank Obama for taking a moment to pander to my community.

    In an effort to experience religious festival tourism for myself, I am going to host an Easter dinner at my house this Monday for all my Catholic friends so that they’ll vote for me on Hot or Not and ignore the fact that I’ve basically ruined the economy and become a joke to Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.

  16. Ben-David

    4/12/2009 at 1:18 pm

    Interesting that they didn’t invite Michelle’s cousin, that “Black Hebrew” guy… at least he actually underwent a Conservative conversion.

  17. Pingback: Fatah: Palestinskt ‘erkännande’ av Israel endast ploj för att fÃ¥ bistÃ¥nd (VIDEO) « FRED I MELLANÖSTERN

  18. Chutzpah

    4/13/2009 at 9:24 pm

    They are all simply praying that they don’t spill Maneschevitz on the antique rug.

    They are also wondering if they will finish in time for American Idol (my family did!) and how much longer they have to sit through this until they eat.

    Most non-Orthodox Jews make mention of the redemption of the African slaves from American slavery and discuss other types of slavery through out World History at their Seders rather than obsess over the exact measurements of their bitter herbs and matzahs , because you know, the Jews had plenty of time to measure out exact “kezyites” of everything as they fled from Pharoh.

  19. Batya

    4/13/2009 at 11:53 pm

    They’re calling that ugly, ridiculous-looking dog Bo. Can you imagine, a Hebrew speaking dog in the White House?

  20. @SarKE

    4/14/2009 at 4:29 am

    SO Bartlett-eque. Complete with Charlie, Abby, Amy, Donna and more. Seriously, since reading the NYT story on the admin team a few months back, I can not separate reality from a Sorkin script.

  21. cognitive dissonance

    4/14/2009 at 9:47 am

    obama’s ass must be wet by now thanks to all the ass kissing by the jews

    he was called a muslim(a bad word in america), now that he is president, the jewish community is lining up to kiss his black ass

  22. Tom Morrissey

    4/14/2009 at 12:18 pm

    Is Bo a dog, actually?

  23. froylein

    4/14/2009 at 12:34 pm

    It’s a cute dog, pretty & smart breed, but it requires lot of care and somebody to look after it. That breed needs a lot of exercize.

  24. Tom Morrissey

    4/14/2009 at 1:09 pm

    I thought Obama was honoring the strictures of the Koran by deciding against getting a (real) dog.

  25. cookie

    4/14/2009 at 1:13 pm

    RE: cognitive dissonance’s comment

    Unnecessary and crude.
    a nice, fun, interesting back and forth was going on and
    THAT’S the most intelligent, analytical response you can come up with?

  26. Tori

    4/14/2009 at 6:04 pm

    I think this Obama sedar is a way of throwing Jews a bone before he attends Durban and forces Israel into a suicidal position.

  27. Tori

    4/14/2009 at 6:05 pm

    Correction: I meant send a delgation to Durban, not attend.

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