Celebrating Passover At The White House

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Passover Seder dinner Saturday in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House. Official White House photo by Pete Souza


For the seventh year in a row, President and Mrs. Obama hosted the annual White House Seder. The Seder provides an opportunity for the First Family to join in retelling the story of the Israelites’ arduous journey through the desert from slavery in Egypt to liberation in the Promised Land.

In recounting the story, they joined their guests in performing the Seder rituals and followed the Haggadah’s command that we see ourselves as though we personally were liberated from Egypt. And they acknowledged how this story has inspired generations of Americans in the struggle for civil rights.

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


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