Passover at the White House

White House

White House

In what has become an annual tradition, President Obama will take part in a private Seder at the White House this evening to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The unlikely annual event began back in April 2008, the New York Times reports, when a group of low-level staff members gathered for an improvised Seder at a Pennsylvania hotel. To their surprise, then-candidate Obama, who is Christian, showed up and joined in.

Last year, with Mr. Obama in the White House, the president took part again. This time there were a few more in attendance, and Malia and Sasha Obama did the traditional duties of Jewish children -- asking questions about the purpose of the celebration and searching for matzo hidden in the furniture. (The picture above comes from last year's Seder.)

This evening's event, which will take place in the Old Family Dining Room, will reportedly include about 20 guests, including top aides David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett as well as lower-level staffers. The guests will offer prayers and tell the traditional biblical story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery.

Passover begins at sunset Monday. The Seder feast grew out of a Bible passage instructing Jews to tell the story of their exit from Egypt.

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