Maryland Greek Life gathers at Hillel for casual Passover Seder

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By Rebecca Cohen
For the Mitzpeh

The second night of Passover brought unity and fun to Jewish students in Maryland’s Greek Life community with Hillel’s Greek Seder Tuesday night.

The event started at 7 p.m., when members of Greek Life congregated at Hillel, regardless of religious affiliation. The ticket  cost $10, to pay for food and services for the meal. While signing up and paying, students could also make a larger donation to Hillel, to help contribute to future events.

Students were invited to wear comfortable clothing to contribute to this casual Seder. The event  was described as a “home away from home” Seder on its Facebook page. The goal was to encourage students to explore family and Israeli traditions, and create new ones with their Greek community and Maryland Hillel.

The Seder was relaxed, user-friendly and only lasted about 45 minutes. Each dining table had a table captain; a member of the Hillel and Greek Life fellowship led parts of the Seder at each table. There were interactive opportunities for attendees to get involved.

Students examine their haggadahs during the seder. Rebecca Cohen/Mitzpeh.
Students examine their haggadahs during the Seder. Rebecca Cohen/Mitzpeh.

Hillel, for example, modified the service to include the “Four Greek Members” instead of the “Four Children.” Attendees were then chosen to read their respective question while an HGL member answered them.

The Jewish diaspora community always observes a second Passover Seder, said  Alex Pollack, a sophomore computer engineering major and a member of HGL and the Greek Seder planning team. Filling that role in Maryland, Hillel wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate this as a diaspora community.

The reason they chose to celebrate the second Seder instead of the first is a lot of people travel home to celebrate the first Seder with their families, Pollack said. Hillel also offered three differently themed Seders on the first night of Passover for those who did not travel home to celebrate.

Following the Seder, Hillel served traditional Passover food, including salad, roasted vegetables, brisket and potato kugel.

Students stock up on food for the seder. Rebecca Cohen/Mitzpeh.
Students stock up on food for the Seder. Rebecca Cohen/Mitzpeh.

Talia Orencel, Hillel’s director of engagement and social justice, said the Greek Life Seder began in 2011, making this the seventh annual occurrence. She said each year more students come. This year, 130 students signed up for the event.

“We just wanted the Jewish community to come together and encourage non-Jews in Greek life to come and share this experience with their friends,” said Jordyn Cohen, a sophomore communications major and member of HGL on the Greek Seder planning team.

Elysa Zebersky, a member of HGL and the Greek Seder planning team, spoke similarly about the intentions of the event.

“The point of all of this is to get a whole bunch of people who share the similarity of being Jewish, and want to incorporate Judaism more into their life together,” said Zebersky, a sophomore English major.

There was a large turnout, though it was less than the team anticipated. Sixty members of the Greek community came together to observe the holiday.

Molly Hersh, a freshman journalism major, said she was looking forward to forging relationships with others in the Greek community, since she is a new member. Additionally, she said she chose to attend the Seder because travelling home to California for the holiday was unrealistic.

“I usually celebrate Passover at home and I wanted to take advantage of a Seder here at school surrounded by the Greek Life community,” Hersh said.

Two Greek life members read their haggadahs during the seder. Rebecca Cohen/Mitzpeh.
Two Greek life members read their haggadahs during the Seder. Rebecca Cohen/Mitzpeh.

“I was excited to celebrate with the large Jewish community we have in Greek Life. Since there are so many of us, it is nice that Hillel can plan these events to bring us together,” said sophomore psychology major Julia Starikovsky.

The room cleared around 9:35 p.m. as everyone traveled back to Fraternity Row. The night allowed attendees to form a strong bond through a celebration of heritage, tradition and religion.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said 103 students signed up for the event. There were about 140 students in attendance.

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