Passover in the White House

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Apr 09, 2009 11:35 AM
Obama is hosting the first-ever Presidential Passover meal. It will include traditional Passover food prepared by White House chefs, and include an A-list of political celebs, like Michelle Obama's deputy chief of staff, Melissa Winter and Barack's advisor Valerie Jarrett.

I want to embrace the Presidential Seder as nothing but a positive gesture; however, I can't escape the feeling that there are lot of smoke and mirrors involved.  Hosting Passover is generous, but it comes on the heels of Obama's and Biden's downright friendly remarks to Iran, making Israeli President Shimon Perez and other Israel supporters anxious. Obama's top two Jewish cohorts, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and advisor David Axelrod, are missing the dinner to be with their families. Which is as it should be - family is an essential element of Passover. But that also leaves me with the question of how legit the event actually is. How many of the Passover attendees are actually Jewish, and what kind of religious threads will be running through the meal?

Obama is clearly not hosting the meal for religious purposes, but rather to show solidarity and respect. That's great, but certainly not the best reason for celebrating the holiday. It's just a little too star-studded and PR-ish.