Obama will host the second Seder ever to be held in the White House. It boggles the mind when you think of it since pols when pontificating on some moralist theme often refer to the “Judeo-Christian tradition.” It’s often an overstatement. After some religious right figure called for the moment of silence in lieu of school prayer and referencing such practice as “Judeo-Christian,” a Jewish comedian whose name I can’t remember remarked, “I was raised in a Jewish household and I can tell you that we never once had a moment of silence, unless we were all sleeping!”
My religious studies professor in college (Noel King, who died last year :&( ) referred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as the “quarrelsome family of a mother and two daughters.” And it could be argued that Judaism and Islam have more in common with each other than either with Christianity (“there is no god but God” is a quote in reference to what some of them perceive to be the polytheism of the Christian trinity).
But over the past few decades it has become fashion in Christian fundamentalism to deem Jews automatically saved (a serious point of contention). So with at least the facile elements of anti-semitism in check, why was there never a Seder held in the White House before last year? Nixon had problems with Jews, but what about the other presidents? Boggles the mind.
Kudos to Obama for doing it, without making a huge deal out of it. Maybe it’ll become a permanent tradition. Sure, it’s merely symbolic. But this is some powerful symbolism.
I wonder if they put oranges on the Seder plate.
Anyway, the New York Times provides the brief history (including the WH protocols compromised to accommodate last year’s Seder) leading into this year’s event.