President Barack Obama is scheduled to land in Israel the week before the Jewish holiday of Passover, presenting his staff with a dietary difficulty: Their hotel, the King David in Jerusalem, will already be “kosher for Passover,” so they won’t be allowed to eat bread or other foods forbidden during the week-long festival.
That means pasta, pizza and all kinds of other baked goods will be unavailable to all guests, superpower leaders included. And they won’t be permitted to sneak forbidden foods into the premises either.
Passover marks the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and, among other traditions, it is observed by abstaining from eating bread and replacing it with matzah — unleavened bread. Jewish tradition also has people rid their homes of traces of various grain-based baked goods, and hotels that obey the rabbinic requirements undergo a thorough cleaning a week or two before Passover.
Like many presidents before him, Obama will be staying at the King David Hotel’s Presidential Suite during this, his first visit as president, and his staff will be spread out in other rooms and in other hotels in Jerusalem.
Because of the proximity of Obama’s visit to the holiday, the hotel told Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday, it would be impossible for the King David to kosher its kitchens in the short time between Obama’s departure and the start of Passover.
Still, the president and his delegation can always eat out, or dine with friends. He’s due on March 20, and the festival proper starts on the eve of March 25.