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Obama 2015 Passover Seder: Guests, menu & Maxwell House Haggadah

WASHINGTON — As former White House videographer Arun Chaudhary noted in a Facebook post, “for those keeping track this is the second time the Afikomen has been hidden in the Green Room at the White House.”

Charudary’s reference is about the seventh annual White House Seder, which took place last Friday, the night of the first Passover Seder.

Since Passover is about the retelling of the story of the Jews leaving Egypt and escaping slavery — the Exodus — each year the story of the origins of the Obama White House is retold and updated here.

The Obama Passover Seder story starts in 2008, when several Jewish Obama presidential campaign workers threw together a Seder at a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania hotel, taking a short break from the contentious 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Obama dropped by and a tradition was born. The 2008 Seder was led by Eric Lesser, then a young campaign staffer handling baggage; last year, Lesser was elected a state senator from Massachusetts.

The essential Seder group remains veterans of the Obama 2008 campaign. From Chicago, Susan Sher, former chief of staff for first lady Michelle — now leading the University of Chicago drive for the Obama library, museum and academic center -— attended once again, along with her husband, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen.

This year as is the tradition, the Maxwell House Haggadah is used for the White House Seder in the Old Family Dining Room.

Chag Sameach.

 My Obama Passover Seder posts 2009 – 2014:

The 2014 Obama Seder

The 2013 Obama Seder

The 2012 Obama Seder

The 2011 Obama Seder

The 2010 Obama Seder

The 2009 Obama Seder

2015 Obama Seder attendees

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle

Valerie Jarrett,

Melissa Winter

Arun Chaudhary and Laura Moser

Eric Lesser and Alison Silber

Herbize Ziskend

Samantha Tubman

Susan Sher and Neil Cohen

Eric Schultz

Ben Rhodes and Ann Norris

Reggie Love

2015 Menu

From White House blog post about the 2015 Seder by Matt Nosanchuk, Director of Outreach on the National Security Council:

This year’s Seder continued a new tradition of having a guest chef. Susan Barocas, one of the inaugural guest chefs from last year – and Washington-based filmmaker and foodie – returned again this year to assist White House Chef Cris Comerford with the meal and brought new additions to the menu, including Moroccan Haroset Balls from the Sephardic tradition, and dishes emphasizing seasonal ingredients, including beets, squash, spring onions, radishes, arugula, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. These recipes were combined with family recipes provided by several of the Seder’s attendees.

The full menu for this year, prepared by White House Chef Cris Comerford, White House Pastry Chef Susan Morrison, and Susan Barocas, included:

Gefilte fish

Haroset (Ashkenazic tradition)
Patricia Winter, Mother of Melissa Winter

Moroccan Haroset Balls (Sephardic tradition)

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
Joan Mass, Grandmother of Herbie Ziskend

Beet and Butternut Squash Salad

Sauté of Green Onions and Radish

Carrot Soufflé
Joan Lesser, Mother of Eric Lesser

Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Onion

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Savory Holiday Brisket
Contributed by Susan Sher

Seared Salmon with Roasted Artichokes

Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Green Olives

Raspberry Ganache Marjolaine
Jewel Chaudhary, Mother of Arun Chaudhary

Triple Layer Chocolate Macaroon Cake

Assorted Macaroons:
Chocolate Chunk Cinnamon Macaroons
Almond Coconut Macaroons