What Sort of Jew is Obama?

Proof that Obama uses the Maxwell House Haggadah.

A Traditional Jew, a safe Jew, a MAxwell House Haggadah Jew according to Jeffery Goldberg’s blog in The Atlantic. The post deserves reading just because it has one of the best titles of any blog post, “Barack Obama Is Such a Traditional Jew Sometimes.”

But you have to wade through a lot of self-promotion for his Hagaddah. I was sent a copy of this Hagaddah to review (The New American Hagaddah) and am not nearly as fond of it as he is. I’ll post on this soon. The New American Haggadah is impractical, over-styled, unwieldy, and the commentary is difficult to incorporate into a seder.

Goldberg’s article revolves around the use of the Maxwell House hagaddah and Obama’s deep Jewish connections.

When I handed him the Haggadah, President Obama, who famously stages his own seders at the White House, (which is a very nice philo-Semitic thing to do, IMHO) spent a moment leafing through it and making approving noises. Then he said (as I told the Times): “Does this mean we can’t use the Maxwell House Haggadah anymore?”

He then comes to his thesis:

George W. Bush was, in his own way, a philo-Semite, but he never would have made such an M.O.T. kind of joke (see the end of this post if you’re not sure what M.O.T. means). Once again, Barack Obama was riffing off the cosmic joke that he is somehow anti-Semitic, when in fact, as many people understand, he is the most Jewish president we’ve ever had (except for Rutherford B. Hayes). No president, not even Bill Clinton, has traveled so widely in Jewish circles, been taught by so many Jewish law professors, and had so many Jewish mentors, colleagues, and friends, and advisers as Barack Obama (though it is true that every so often he appoints a gentile to serve as White House chief of staff). And so no President, I’m guessing, would know that the Maxwell House Haggadah — the flimsy, wine-stained, rote, anti-intellectual Haggadah you get when you buy a can of coffee at Shoprite) — is the target, alternatively, of great derision and veneration among American Jews (at least, I’m told there are people who venerate it). I’ll grapple with the meaning of Obama’s Jewishness later, but the dispute between the Jewish right and the Jewish left over Obama is actually not about whether he is anti-Jewish or pro-Jewish, but over what sort of Jew he actually is.

He also explains that his why Obama goes to Aipac and not JStreet.

Because Aipac is a Maxwell House Haggadah.

I guess the people of Mississippi didn’t get the memo that Obama is actually a Jew and not a Muslim.


  1. Joel Gold

    3/13/2012 at 6:43 pm

  2. Mike Darnell

    3/14/2012 at 2:44 am

  3. AlexK

    3/14/2012 at 5:24 pm

    • zzz05

      3/16/2012 at 7:49 pm

  4. AlexK

    3/14/2012 at 5:28 pm

  5. Dave O

    3/16/2012 at 11:18 am

  6. gzuckier

    3/16/2012 at 7:48 pm

  7. josh

    3/24/2012 at 5:45 pm

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