US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, celebrated their fifth Passover eve Seder dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House on Monday with family, staff and friends, the White House said.

Celebrating the Seder dinner at the White House has been a personal tradition Obama began during his 2008 presidential campaign, a spokesman said.

“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,” spokesman Josh 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.”

Prior to the Seder dinner on Monday, Obama and the first lady sent “warmest wishes to all those celebrating Passover here in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world.”



“Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for, and ultimately won,” Obama said in a statement.

Following his first visit to Israel as president, Obama reminded the world that “responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins.”

The American president stated that on his trip, he had the chance to speak with young Israelis who saw “how the dream of true freedom found its full expression in those words of hope from Hatikva,” Obama continued in Hebrew, “To be a free people in our land.”

On Monday evening, Pope Francis also sent holiday greetings to the Jews of Rome.

“May the Almighty, who freed his people from slavery in Egypt to guide them to the Promised Land, continue to free you from every evil and accompany you with his blessing,” the pope said in a message.

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