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Obama to celebrate Passover with White House Seder

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington after a trip to Israel, Mar
U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington after a trip to Israel, Mar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will mark the Jewish Passover with a White House Seder on Monday, part of a personal tradition he began during his 2008 presidential campaign, a spokesman said.

Obama will sit down with family and friends for the dinner celebrating the first night of Passover, when Jews around the world retell the story of liberation from bondage in ancient Egypt.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama started the Seder tradition with campaign staffers in April 2008 and kept it up in the White House.

"It was an opportunity for him to spend some time with staff on the campaign and with friends, and it was a very meaningful moment on the campaign for him," Earnest said.

"They will participate in the traditional Seder activities, and I know that there are some secret family recipes that are involved in the whole thing as well."

A Seder includes the reading of the Haggadah, which contains the story of the exodus from Egypt and blessings, as well as ritual wine drinking and special foods. A piece of unleavened bread, or matzoh, from the table is hidden for children to find.

Earnest said the Obamas' ceremony would include a Seder plate given to first lady Michelle Obama by Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)

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