ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS
Popular Passover handbook goes to White House Seder table
By Pete Souza, AP
When President Obama and Jewish guests celebrate the Passover Seder ceremonial meal on Friday, they’ll read from ‘The Maxwell House Haggadah,’ a handbook of rituals, commentary and prayers published as a freebie by Maxwell House.
By Oded Ezer
Two acclaimed Jewish novelists and an Israeli artist known for his illustrations with typography collaborated on ‘The New American Haggadah,’ a book of prayers, stories and scholarly commentary to serve as the text for the Passover Seder dinner.
Source: USA Today, 4-5-12
Friday night, when President Obama joins Jewish guests for a Passover Seder in the White House, he’ll be holding a ritual handbook that’s in millions of U.S. Jewish homes — the Maxwell House Haggadah.
Yes, the coffee company publishes America’s most long standing and popular booklet (haggadah) of prayers, reading and commentary for the ceremonial meal ) in which Jews retell the story of the exodus from Egypt — freedom from bondage at God’s hand.
Decades ago, Maxwell House wanted to convey that its product was kosher, acceptable under Jewish dietary laws, for the holiday. Jewish homes have piles of these haggadahs, pulled out of the cupboard once a year.
But many also have scholarly and beautiful historic, political and artistic haggadahs as well. One of the core teachings of the holiday is that the story of freedom must be told in the present tense, as if every generation was personally experiencing oppression and liberation. Weaving in current events and issues, supplementing the readings and embellishing the art of the hagaddah is a tradition centuries old and as new as this week.
On Wednesday, the White House and Department of Agriculture teamed with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, to sponsor a Seder at the Agriculture headquarters where the haggadah theme was Food and Justice. On the Seder plate, where each of the foods symbolizes a part of the story and the theology of Passover, they added a tomato. The haggadah explained it was
… in honor of migrant farm workers everywhere who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and persistence in securing a better life for farm workers.