WASHINGTON D.C. -- The occasion was the White House celebration of American Jewish Heritage Month on May 30th at which some 200 guests enjoyed glatt kosher food, under the supervision of Chabad of Washington in conjunction with the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington. Rabbi Levi Shemtov of the Chabad of Greater Washington supervised the kosher fare at the event which included an impressive delegation of the kosher food industry, headed by Alain Bankier of Manischewitz, Greg Rosenbaum of Empire Kosher and Yakov Yarmove of SuperValu.
Manischewitz has been particularly active in promoting Jewish Heritage Month. Launched in 2006 by President George W. Bush, JAHM is celebrated nationwide, including events at the Capitol and the White House. This year President Barak Obama evoked the dark memory of the 150th anniversary of an order that was issued by General Ulysses Grant, expelling Jews “as a class” from the military department of Tennessee.
“It was wrong. Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly train of thought,” Obama said. He went on to note that American Jews protested the order. "What happened next could have only taken place in America," he said. "Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision." He described how a Jewish merchant from Kentucky met with President Abraham Lincoln and how following the meeting, the order was rescinded.
In years past, particularly during the Clinton era, the White House would reach out to a local caterer, sometimes even from neighboring Baltimore to cater kosher at the White House. But at recent events, including the much celebrated Chanukah celebration, the fare is arranged and supervised by Rabbi Shemtov.