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Public invited to 1st White House virtual seder Thursday with VP and her husband

Thursday evening Zoom event will include taped remarks from president and first lady; gathering will continue tradition started under Barack Obama over a decade ago

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The White House has invited the public to attend the first virtual White House seder on Thursday with US Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish.

Taped remarks from US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will also be played at the Zoom event scheduled for 5 p.m. EST and 11 p.m. in Israel.

It will be Emhoff’s second seder this week after making an appearance as guest speaker at this year’s National Rainbow Seder. The event, also a virtual one, strove to celebrate Passover through an LGBTQ lens.

At that event, the second gentleman told attendees that Jewish history is “an entirely contemporary story about the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice in an all too often broken world. The seder is where I learned from an early age that Passover holds such power.”

The Thursday seder will be led by Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior rabbi of Los Angeles’s non-denominational IKAR congregation.

A White House official told The Forward that this year’s seder would be held two days before Passover in order to allow traditionally observant Jews who do not use computers on the holiday itself to participate

Thursday’s event continues the tradition of White House seders that began during former president Barack Obama’s first year in office, and continued under his successor, though Donald Trump never attended them himself. However, those pre-pandemic seders were all held in person and weren’t open to the general public.

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