During this festival of freedom, Jews gather around the Seder table to engage in one of the oldest traditions in the Jewish faith. One of the highlights of the Passover holiday is, of course, the food. On Passover, food assumes a special role: it not only nourishes; it educates. As families gather around the Seder table, much of the night’s discussion revolves around the Seder plate. The Seder plate, or the ke’ara, holds six traditional items: the marror, lettuce, shank bone, egg, charoset, and the vegetable. These foods have played a central role in the Passover Seder throughout generations, allowing Jews today to connect with their forbearers from thousands of years ago.
As President Obama said in his Passover statement this year:
"Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for, and ultimately won. But even as we give thanks, we are called to look to the future. We are reminded that responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins. As my family and I prepare to once again take part in this ancient and powerful tradition, I am hopeful that we can draw upon the best in ourselves to find the promise in the days that lie ahead, meet the challenges that will come, and continue the hard work of repairing the world. Chag sameach." --President Obama
As in previous years, we have compiled recipes for Passover from members of the White House staff. These dishes, like the foods displayed on the Seder plate, inspire those who enjoy them to remember their own family histories. Whether eliciting warm memories from childhood or a grandparent’s experience in a foreign land, or serving as an expression of a unique ethnic or cultural background, these foods bring further meaning and power to this special holiday. Chag Sameach.
By David Litt, Presidential Speechwriter in the Office of Communications
I come from an Ashkenazi family, and we tend to stick to the typical Eastern-European Jewish dishes. But my aunt by marriage, Eva, comes from a family of Mashhadi Jews – her parents came here from Iran a few years before she was born. For about 20 years Aunt Eva and her family have hosted the second Seder, and her mother, Minou, usually brings a few dishes she learned to make growing up in Mashhad. For me, nothing can ever take the place of chicken soup and gefilte fish, but Minou’s cooking brings a whole new set of flavors to the table, and it’s always a highlight of the meal.
Prepare the meat
Prepare the greens
By Hallie Schneir, Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement
As my family and friends gather for days of Passover, one of the highlights of this special time is without a doubt, the food. Along with the traditional foods that have been eaten during the Seder for thousands of years, my family, like so many other Jewish families, enjoys particular foods that make the holiday unique to us. Passover would simply not be the same without them. I’m so glad to be sharing one of my mom’s recipes with you!
This recipe makes about 3 dozen macaroons. Enjoy!
By Jonathan Greenblatt, Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation & Civil Participation
On Passover, it's customary for Iranian Jews to visit the homes of their elders and extended family members. When they arrive, guests are often offered a variety of roasted nuts and homemade kosher for Passover treats. Nuts are nutritious and filling and are easy substitutes for non-kosher for Passover cooking ingredients. Pistachios are among the most popular and abundant nuts that are attributed to Iran. This recipe features a variety of nuts and spices that make for the Iranian Charoset or as it's known in Iran, "Hallegh.”
By Noemi Levy, Policy Assistant in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Policy Development
My parents and grandparents were born and raised in Morocco, where Jews have lived for centuries. I was born in Paris, France (where both my parents’ families moved to at a young age) and lived there until the age of seven. I remember having Shabbat dinner with my grandmother every Friday night as a child. The lamb stew, which is kosher for Passover, was without a doubt my favorite dish. When we moved to Miami, away from the rest of my family, it meant I could only have my grandmother’s amazing cooking about once a year when we went to visit her in France. Whether I see my grandmother (who translated this recipe from Arabic to my mom for this collection!) or not, I always request the lamb stew during Passover.
Serves about 6 people.
By Avra Siegel, Deputy Executive Director for the Council on Women and Girls.
The ultimate goal of the night is to engage the children by eliciting their questions and observations about the Seder. We accomplish this goal by eating various symbolic foods like Charoset, which is placed on the Seder plate and represents the mortar used by the enslaved Israelites in their backbreaking labor. A modern twist is added to our Seder, by holding a “Charoset tasting” that includes Italian, Greek, Sephardic (Island of Rhodes), Turkish, and Central European Charoset.
Makes about 6 1/2 to 7 cups.
Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Makes about 2 cups.
Central European Charoset
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Zachary Kelly is Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff and works with the Office of Public Engagement on Jewish outreach.