Trump Breaks With Obama's Tradition, Doesn't Attend White House Passover Seder

Obama hosted a Seder dinner every year, becoming the first U.S. president to celebrate Passover on an annual basis in the White House

U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on April 10, 2017.
JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump broke with his predecessor's Passover tradition on Monday night, and did not show up to a last-minute seder dinner organized by Jewish staffers at the White House.

Neither did any of the president's Jewish family members attend the event, which took place not in the White House itself, but in the nearby Executive Office building.

For the past eight years, former President Barack Obama hosted a seder dinner, becoming the first U.S. president to celebrate Passover on an annual basis in the White House. On some of the occassions, Obama's family members – including First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia – joined the event, to which a small number of Jewish staffers and friends of the president were invited.

This year, a question mark was raised early on regarding the continuation of that tradition. Haaretz asked the White House more than a month before Passover whether it would continue with Trump, who has a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren, but received no reply. In recent days, anonymous sources in the White House told a number of media outlets that the "Obama tradition" will continue, but eventually it did not.

The seder event did not appear in Trump's official schedule for Monday, which ended at 4:30 P.M. Trump, however, didn't exactly have a free evening, as much of the hours in his schedule that don't feature a specific event are used these days for consultations in light of the security crises he is facing in Syria and in North Korea. 

This is not the first time a seder takes place in the Executive Office Building without the president's participation. In 1993, a group of Jewish aides at the White House held a seder, organized by Steve Rabinowitz, a Clinton adviser who today heads the Washington public relations firm Bluelight Strategies. That seder was held in the same room as the one organized by Trump's aides on Monday night, the Indian Treaty Room.