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.
My Obama Passover Seder posts 2009 – 2014:
2015 Obama Seder attendees
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle
Arun Chaudhary and Laura Moser
Eric Lesser and Alison Silber
Susan Sher and Neil Cohen
Ben Rhodes and Ann Norris
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:
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
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
Chocolate Chunk Cinnamon Macaroons
Almond Coconut Macaroons