Since becoming president in 2009, Barack Obama has thrown a private seder each year for his family, friends and staff at the White House. This year was no different, as he celebrated the beginning of Passover on March 25.
During a recent visit to Israel, President Obama said his family celebrates Passover each year with a dinner at the White House so that his daughters, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, can experience it. This year, the first family used a seder plate given to Michelle Obama on the trip.
Obama Family Celebrates Passover With Seder
While in Israel, the first lady was given a seder plate as a gift from from Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plate was then used at the Obamas’ seder dinner – the mean that kicks off the beginning of Passover, in which Jewish people celebrate liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt.
The dinner included staff of the White House, the Obama family and close friends.
Barack Obama was one of many who tweeted on Monday celebrating the Jewish holiday, writing “Chag sameach: “Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Passover.” He also included a link to his full statement about Passover. Chag semeach is Hebrew for Happy Holiday; literally, it is translated to joyous festival.
President Obama’s Statement About Passover
“As we prepare for our fifth seder in the White House, Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Passover here in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world,” Obama wrote.
“Tonight, Jewish families will gather with family and friends to celebrate with songs, wine, and food,” he added. They will read from the Haggadah, and retell the story that makes this holiday so powerful. Last week, I visited the state of Israel for the third time, my first as President. I reaffirmed our countries’ unbreakable bonds with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I had the chance to speak directly with young Israelis about the future they wanted for their country, their region, and the world. And I saw once again how the dream of true freedom found its full expression in those words of hope from Hatikvah, lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu, ‘To be a free people in our land.'”
“Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for, and ultimately won,” he continued. “But even as we give thanks, we are called to look to the future. We are reminded that responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins. As my family and I prepare to once again take part in this ancient and powerful tradition, I am hopeful that we can draw upon the best in ourselves to find the promise in the days that lie ahead, meet the challenges that will come, and continuing the hard work of repairing the world. Chag sameach.”
— Emily Longeretta