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If a Jew were elected president of the United States, would he/she be required to put a mezuzah on all of the doors of the White House? I can think of many arguments for each side.

  • The house does not belong to the president. Nonetheless, we do require placing mezuzot on rented dwellings.

  • The White House may not be considered a dwelling due its public use. Still, there is a section of the White House called the "Executive Residence" which is where the president and first family live. Perhaps this section needs mezuzot and the rest of the White House does not. On the other hand, even the Executive Residence is still somewhat of a public space, with many rooms the first family likely never uses, rooms for hosting state events, rooms used by White House employees, etc. But perhaps these are akin to guest rooms/entertaining rooms in a normal house.

  • It seems somewhat strange to affix mezuzot to some doors in the White House and not others. After all, the halakha is that every room in a house must have a mezuzah. But since the rest of the house is a public space, perhaps this is more akin to an apartment building where the Jewish resident is only responsible for placing mezuzot on the space he/she occupies.

So to which doors (if any) would a Jewish president need to attach a mezuzah?

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    Intriguing and +1, I wonder if the fact the President doesn't rent but is given the house as part of his role influences the outcome? – mbloch Feb 7 at 15:39
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    I'm inclined to think that the White House has halachic rules similar to a hotel room that you would rent for a minimum of 30 days. (I think that' s the criteria for a mezuzah.) You live in the hotel room. So your room would need the mezuzah, but the other hotel rooms don't. Re the White House, I think we need to distinguish its status. Specifically - is the entire White House considered the president's home and the president controls when he wants to allow people into specific rooms such as the oval office, press rooms, public tours, etc?(cont.) – DanF Feb 7 at 15:44
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    Housing is part of the compensation for a variety of jobs. From housekeeper or nanny to university president to Peace Corp worker or summer camp counselor. Some are short-term, some longer-term. Some are for entire houses, some for a room of one's own, some for a shared room. – Cyn Feb 7 at 15:46
  • ... in which case, it is the president's home & seems each room needs a mezuzah. If, however, all the rooms are public access but just the bedrooms and kitchen and specific other rooms are "owned" by the president, then, this sounds like the hotel situation. – DanF Feb 7 at 15:49
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    I'm sure it varies a lot. I could see, for example, a museum with a small suite in the back for the caretaker to live in. Or an office building with apartments on the top floors. Or an oil drilling platform with 50 workers that also live there. If there are rulings for some situations I mentioned in both comments, we could figure out how the rules might apply to the occupants of the WH. The WH is a historic building with strict rules about what renovations are and aren't allowed, but putting up a mezuzah (which can be done without damaging the door frame) in and of itself should be fine. – Cyn Feb 7 at 16:06
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See Shulkan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 286:1,23, and perushim there.

The dwelling place of a Jew requires a mezuzah.[286:1] A dwelling rented by a Jew from a gentile, requires a mezuzah.[286:33] It is still a dwelling place of a Jew.

In as much as the residential areas in the white house are given to him to live in while he is president, and he has achariot (control/responsibility) over those areas, it is his dwelling and it requires mezuzot.

If a Jew is given an office, in a building owned by gentiles, in as much as he has some achariot over it, he puts up a mezuzah. Whether he does it with a berachoh is a question for a Rov.

If a Jew shares achariot (controkl/responsibility) in a place with a gentile, then it becomes a question. Some opinions hold to put it up without a berachoh. And some are concerned that the gentile will think he is doing "witchcraft", and etc. Again, it becomes a question for a Rov.

So, his residence probably needs mezuzot (every door except the bathroom and schloch house if any). His office and that of his wife if they give her one, probably get mezuzot. Other rooms and areas have to be considered case by case.

See also the laws of bedekas chometz where concepts of achariot are expounded.

  • B"H I am not responsible for bedikas chametz in the White House – Daniel Feb 26 at 21:17
  • @Daniel, but you're not president, yet. – DrM Feb 26 at 21:24
  • @Daniel, don't forget to accept if you like the answer – DrM Feb 26 at 21:25

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