Posted by: Wayne L. Firestone, President on 4/12/2007 11:14:00 AM
Flying marshmallows. The NCAA men’s basketball finals. Matzoh balls. Social justice. They all have one thing in common: Hillel seders.
While I was fortunate to celebrate Passover with my family, many college students found it difficult to return home for the holiday. I want to express my great respect and admiration for the Hillel professionals and students who rose to this challenge and organized creative, meaningful seders for all those who remained on campus.
Being away from home can be scary event for students. At the same time it can also be a time for them to explore their freedom as individuals. Passover presents the perfect opportunity for Hillels to engage students and build communities. Hillel’s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning provided 30,000 creative educational pamphlets to provide depth and context for the Passover story.
Allow me to mention just a few of these seders. Flying kosher-for-Passover marshmallows made an appearance at the University of Rhode Island Hillel
. The candy treats served as symbolic “hail” during the story of the 10 plagues. It was an added surprise to the otherwise traditional seder.
At Northwestern, 10 student-led seders took place in dorms and apartments across campus on the first night using Hillel’s “Seder in a box.” Northwestern's Fiedler Hillel Center provided one campuswide seder the following night. Students also had the option to sign up for home hospitality with a local family.
Seeking to accommodate those who wished to celebrate the holiday and watch the University of Florida Men’s basketball team play in the National Championship, the Hillel at UF hosted a spirit-filled Gator Seder for students. A more traditional seder was held later in the evening.
Hillel at California State Northridge had a particular meaningful experience, making an exodus to New Orleans where students of different faiths joined together to rebuild the community and explore Passover and Easter together.
Hillel at the College of William and Mary responded to community interest in the Passover by holding a community seder open to all faiths. On hand for the seder were college President Gene Nichol as well as university officials who have worked to provide a selection of kosher for Passover foods in the school’s dining halls. And at Washington State University, the school’s dining services rolled 1,000 matzah balls for 170 people at the WSU Hillel Community Seder.
Perhaps the most inclusive seder was Cornell Hillel’s Super Seder, consisting of 50 different seders occurring simultaneously. Among the different seders the 1,000 attendees could attend were Orthodox and Conservative seders, a sports-themed seder, a musical seder and an eco-seder.
One participant, senior Julie Levin, wrote a particularly charming column about her experience in the Cornell Sun: “Given all my gripes, I’m happy that this Passover — the final one of my college career — was such a fun one. Monday night reminded me how lucky we Jewish students at Cornell are to have a community that is so involved and does so much for us. From Shabbat dinners to Passover seders, Jewish tradition is not only alive at Cornell, but available for anyone who wants to find it. Not at one point throughout Monday’s seder did I feel pangs of homesickness for my family — I already felt like I was a part of another one. So to all my Jews out there, I would just like to say Chag Same’ach Pesach! Happy Passover, kids.”
RE: Matzoh Balls and Basketballs for Seder
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