Scenes from a White House Seder

Seder_hi-res2

The White House has released this photo of the historic White House seder, the first ever attended by a sitting President.

The specifics of the meal are scant. Nevertheless, it is possible to discern a couple of interesting details.

MaxwellhouseA close-up analysis of the official photo reveals that the choice of haggadah was cheap and utilitarian (and, presumably, an unintentional product placement). Eschewing a modern reinterpretation like the contemplative A Passover Haggadah (interspersed with commentary from Elie Wiesel), the White House seder went instead with the ubiquitous Maxwell House Haggadah, a supermarket freebie (complimentary with a can of Maxwell House coffee since 1933).

Also notable is that it looks like each guest got their own personal seder plate to refer to during the ceremony. A great idea, I think, except for all of the egg-roasting involved.

For more information about the event, the Huffington Post has a detailed report on who exactly is sitting around the table, which included President Obama, first Lady Michelle Obama, the first daughters, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, among other friends and White House staff.


 





Comments

Excuse my ignorance, but what does Maxwell House have to do with seder? Why did they publish that haggadah?

 

erm, a translation would be kinda helpful. I have no idea what the heck you are talking about, or the significance.

help!

 

It does look like a lovely setting. I guess it's part of the Presidents attempt to be more inclusive. Have to give him some props for that.

 

I didn't know that Maxwell House published a Haggadah (guess it's only in the U.S. and I'm in Canada) until last night. The story of its origins that I heard was that a lot of Jews were giving up coffee during passover because they thought that coffee, being from a bean, wasn't kosher for passover. Maxwell House sought to get the Jews drinking coffee during passover by marketing a hagaddah.

Sounds like a campaign out of Mad Men.

 

One of the most amazing scenes of the Obama first 100 days. I too give him a lot of credit for hosting a Seder meal. This is also a good education for his children. My mother used to have a Seder meal when I was a teenager and we're Christian. Props for Mr. President...!

 

A haggadah is like a program for the seder dinner. At every seder, we discuss the story of Passover and the haggadah includes the story, readings about Passover and often songs.

I grew up only knowing of Maxwell House haggadahs. I didn't even realize there were non-branded versions!

 

Seder is a ritual that is familiar and comforting for those who celebrate Passover every year. This is when the leader (President Obama, or in most families DAD) asks the questions of the children or other folks at the table such as "Why is this night different from all other nights?" And the child either recites from the Haggadah or from memory the answer. In this way the tradition is passed down from father to children and to non-Jews (like me!) who are invited to participate (part of the ritual). I learned to eat horseradish (bitter herb)and gefiltefish(sp)and unlevened bread or matzo. A lovely and meaningful ritual and I wish I knew a family who would ask me to join their Seder now. Good Pesach everyone!

 

We too celebrated our Passover Seder in the Philippines as enlightened completed Talmidim of Yeshua recognizing him as the Lamb of G-d that was slain for our redemption(Isaiah 53. It is through his shed blood that eternal death passed/ passes over us and brings us into life here and in eternity, when we believe in his finished redemptive work on the cross. He is coming back soon for his own as the Conquering King of kings. Maranatha! "Come, let us reason together says Adonai..."

 

No mention that Jesus was cruxified on Passover. First Fruits of Zion (ffoz.com? .org?) has an appropriate haggadah for Christian Passover Seders. Maybe next year at the Wite House. FYI. Passover/Pesach never lands on a Friday and during Jesus' lifetime Friday was also a Sabbath (see Luke 6:1 KJV mention of this Friday "first" Sabbath). Therefore, Jesus was not cruxified on a Friday. Holy Week should, instead, be with a Good Thursday and a Maundy Wednesday as it was this year.

 

I think it's cool that they used the Maxwell Housew Hagaddahs. Very traditionally American. These are the Hagaddahs of my childhood Pesach seders.

 

This may be the first seder held in the White House but Obama is not the first sitting President to attend one. Jimmy Carter attended a seder his first year in the White House.

 

We grew up using the Maxwell House Haggadah -- the grey hardback ones. This was in Huntington, WV in the 50 and 60s, and I don't think we had many choices then. Sitting around the table with my mother's family there were a lot more of us than in this picture. My father led a speed reading.

 

Mark--um, what kind of whacky Jews for Jesus stuff is this? Passover falls on a "secular" Friday all the time. AND it also falls on Shabbot. Hype-and-agenda free facts available courtesy of Google, starting here.

http://judaism.about.com/b/2008/04/12/when-erev-pesach-falls-on-shabbat.htm

 

And yeah I remember the Maxwell House Haggadah. My family has a small collection of various ones from different shuls, and I have a copy of a hand-lettered one done by a co-worker's late father (he was an illustrator in the 50's).

 

My family has always used the "Silverman" Haggadah, which i think is terrific. This year one of our guests brought a signed copy of Ben Shahn's illustrated Haggadah, which was wonderful to see.


I think it's a shame that at this historic White House seder they chose to use the Maxwell House haggadah, which is really one of the worst out there.


There are quite a lot of fantastic haggadahs out there that would have been far more interesting to the President and his guests, including many that are child-friendly. For a nice review, check out:

http://www.jbooks.com/children/CB_Applebaum.htm

 

My family moved from Brooklyn to Kentucky in the 1920. I was born in 1931 and as a child I can recall many times reading from a Haggadah during a Seder. Our Seders were attended by anywhere from 6 to 28 family members. We had several haggadahas including the one from Maxwell House and alternated using them.

 

several comments, starting with my one negative, to Beth and the ones who commented on her post. There are no real Jews for Jesus. there are Apostates who were Jewish but who are now Christian.

Now on the topic. I think that the idea of having a Seder in the White House was a nice idea. one of the main themes of the Seder is inclusiveness "Let all who are hungry, come and eat." Also it is a time to include the "Strangers" (Not family member) so that we remember that we were strangers in the land of Egypt at one point in time.

The purpose of the Seder is to teach the story of how we came to be in Egypt, How we came to be enslaved. What slavery entailed. How we gained our freedom. How we came to our historical homeland. The Seder helps us to understand that we are still connected to those who came before us.

I think that having children learn their own customs, and share them with other children is important. The Christian children in our own neighborhood were invited to participate in our holidays where it was appropriate; my very Jewish children went to their Catholic and Protestants home to participate in their holidays where appropriate. As a result we have knowledgeable adult children who have an understanding of, and respect for each others religious practices. And if we had had Muslims in our neighborhood they would have been included also.

On the Maxwell house Hagadah. it was started in the 30's as a giveaway with purchase. At a time when money was scarce, it afforded many people to have more Hagadahs. At a time when extended families were huge, that was a real blessing. and it hasn't been updated. Over the past 45 years we have collected many, many different Hagadahs.

 

Another great modern Hagaddah, especially for all the "JewBus" out there, is the Hagaddah for Jews and Buddhists -- a bit new age-y, but very meaningful - I recommend it!

 

"A close-up analysis of the official photo reveals that the choice of haggadah was cheap and utilitarian (and, presumably, an unintentional product placement). Eschewing a modern reinterpretation like the contemplative A Passover Haggadah (interspersed with commentary from Elie Wiesel), the White House seder went instead with the ubiquitous Maxwell House Haggadah, a supermarket freebie"

Boorish, tacky comment.

 

Very nice post. I really enjoy the reading. I come here from the google while searching for some good article.

 

Nice wedding dress !

 

Thanks for sharing it

 

The story of its origins that I heard was that a lot of Jews were giving up coffee during passover because they thought that coffee, being from a bean, wasn't kosher for passover. Maxwell House sought to get the Jews drinking coffee during passover by marketing a hagaddah.

 

The story of its origins that I heard was that a lot of Jews were giving up coffee during passover because they thought that coffee, being from a bean, wasn't kosher for passover. Maxwell House sought to get the Jews drinking coffee during passover by marketing a hagaddah.

 

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