Tradition! Trump to keep Obama Passover custom alive with Seder Monday

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump will host a White House Passover seder Monday night, an administration official told The Times of Israel on Sunday, confirming that the new administration will continue a tradition started by former president Barack Obama.

Aside from the president, who is expected to attend, it is not yet clear which members of the administration will participate in the dinner, including Trump’s Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka.

The White House Seder began as an annual tradition under former president Barack Obama, who hosted the first such event in 2009, in the Old Family Dining Room.

News that the Trump administration had planned to carry on the custom was first reported by Jewish Insider.

Obama sought to establish this ritual after he participated in a Passover dinner during his successful 2008 presidential campaign, when he surprised Jewish members of his campaign staff by holding an impromptu seder in a hotel ballroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

US President Donald Trump alongside White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L) during a meeting at the White House, February 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Beyond his immediate family, Trump has several Jewish administration officials who could partake in the dinner, including Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Senior Adviser Stephen Miller.

Monday night will mark the first night of Passover for Jews around the world, who will gather around tables for the traditional feast centered around retelling the story of the ancient Jews’ exodus from Egypt.

Many Jews around the world traditionally hold two seders on successive nights, while Jews in Israel have only one.

Obama often invited Jewish members of staff to join in his seder, including David Axelrod and Ben Rhodes. Some of his aides reportedly consulted with White House chefs over family recipes for traditional Passover cuisine.

President Obama hosting a Passover seder at the White House in 2012 (Pete Souza/The White House)

Non-Jewish members of Obama’s administration, such as Valerie Jarrett, were known to join in the dinner, as well.

Last year, the White House seder was delayed until after Passover to accommodate Obama’s travel schedule.

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama seen hosting a previous Passover Seder for family, staff and friends in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo/Pete Souza)

One of the hallmarks of the Obama seder — which was held every year of his eight-year presidency — was using the ubiquitous Maxwell House Haggadah and a glass kiddush cup that former first lady Michelle Obama was given by rabbi in Prague.

Claudia Moser breaks down in front of her family and President Obama at the 2015 White House Seder (Pete Souza/The White House)

Trump is the first president with immediate family members who are Jewish. His daughter Ivanka married Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, in 2009. Before tying the knot, she underwent a rigorous Orthodox conversion process under the tutelage of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein at the Upper East Side’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.

The two — who observe Shabbat and keep kosher — have raised their three children, the youngest of whom was born last March, Jewish.

When the family moved to Washington, their oldest daughter, Arabella, began attending Jewish Primary Day School. Both now work in the administration; Kushner is a senior adviser to the president and Ivanka, as of last week, is an official assistant to the president.

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, center, her husband Jared Kushner, above center, and their children arrive for a National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral, in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


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