— by Jason Attermann
The New York Times detailed the White House’s efforts to ensure that the catering at the annual Hanukkah celebration was certified Kosher for their Jewish guests. Led by Rabbi Levi Shemtov of the American Friends of Lubavitch, the White House kitchen staff joined with some mashgiachs to completely and flawlessly kasher the kitchen.
Extract after the jump.
The following night would bring the Hanukkah party for 550 guests, politicians and Supreme Court justices among them. Rigorous koshering (sometimes called kashering) would ensure that the kitchen would be in compliance with Jewish dietary laws. Guests could eat without qualms, knowing their religious commitment had been respected.
‘We do the basic cleaning,’ says the White House’s executive sous-chef, Tommy Kurpradit, as he directs five workers (he learned about koshering from Bush White House Hanukkah celebrations). ‘Then the rabbis do the super-cleaning.’
Imagine the earnest anxiety of non-Jews eager to please the observant; the exacting scrutiny of the observant, dedicated to ancient laws; a ticking clock; and a soupçon of Marx Brothers….
White House usher [Daniel] Shanks has been on staff for 17 years. He recalled Clinton White House events when kosher meals were brought in for guests, and a time when a separate kosher table was set up.
‘To see us evolve to do as much as we do now,’ he says, ‘it’s a great honor.’