The Jewish holiday of Passover began on Monday, and Jews all over the world gathered to celebrate their ancestors' deliverance from slavery in Egypt into the promised land. One of the most important tenets of Passover is coming together with your faith community, but some very prominent members of the Jewish community were missing from the official celebration at the White House this week. The Trumps didn't show up for the White House Passover Seder, which was a sadly lost opportunity to support the American Jewish community.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted a picture Tuesday of a few White House employees gathered together for the seder. Notably absent from the picture are the practicing Jews in the First Family, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Trump tweeted a picture of her family together somewhere in the White House, but didn't explain why she wasn't with her Jewish coworkers at the official White House Seder or how she would be celebrating the holiday.
Signing up to be the First Family, as Kushner and Ivanka Trump have by taking jobs in the White House, means sharing your life with the entire country. Especially in this tenuous moment of anti-semitism in the United States, the Trumps have a responsibility to enthusiastically share, and thereby legitimize, their cultural heritage and traditions. Skipping the White House Seder reinforces their reputation as elitists, while also denying everyone an important chance to learn more about what Passover means for the modern Jewish community.
The setting for the dinner is also tellingly different, according to Christina Wilkie, a White House correspondent for The Huffington Post. Wilkie posted on Twitter that Spicer's picture shows this year's Passover seder took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, across the street from the White House. However, President Obama always held the seder in a White House dining room, and showed up for all eight seders of his presidency. It seems to be a clear indicator of the Trump administration's level of respect for this event, particularly since there was protocol set by his predecessor that was ignored.
If the Trump family wanted to celebrate the holiday in private for some religious reason, that's perfectly fine. But when millions of the people who you are representing, both in government and in your shared religion, get no indication of your participation or commitment, it's a little insulting.
The Trumps missed a chance to connect with people and make themselves a little more likable, but most importantly, the missed the chance to make a strong statement of support for American Jews at a time when they could really use it.