April 8th, 2009
05:07 PM ET
5 years ago

White House seder

Tomorrow night President Obama will attend what could be the first White House seder in the old family dining room of the residence, a White House official tells CNN.
Tomorrow night President Obama will attend what could be the first White House seder in the old family dining room of the residence, a White House official tells CNN.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Tomorrow night President Obama will attend what could be the first White House seder in the old family dining room of the residence, a White House official tells CNN. And it won't be the President's first.

The same White House official tells CNN that the event will be a reunion of sorts. Last year, in the thick of the Pennsylvania primary a group of traveling Obama campaign staff couldn't get home for seder. Instead, like the Jews in Exodus, they had to prepare a seder in haste. One junior staffer found space for the impromptu meal in the basement of a Harrisburg Sheraton. He gathered the traditional seder foods from the hotel kitchen, and from a cousin who was in college nearby.

The staffers invited then-candidate Obama. But they were surprised when he showed up, along with aide Valerie Jarrett and Obama family friend Marty Nesbitt. All three reportedly plan to attend the gathering tomorrow night.

The event will be informally led by Eric Lesser, now 24, who organized last year's event. Lesser is now assistant to David Axelrod; during the campaign he handled baggage call and logistics for traveling staff and media.

The seder will be small and informal, focusing on the themes of deliverance and social justice. The same White House official says the President has attended many seders, and at last year's gathering engaged participants on the social justice questions that are a central part of the Passover story.

It is traditional that at the end of the seder participants say the words "next year in Jerusalem" to signify the Jewish return to a homeland. The Obama campaign group ended last year's Sedar with the added line "next year in the White House." The White House official says that at tomorrow's gathering the small group will reflect on everything that's happened in the last year.


Filed under: President Obama
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