By Haleigh Whisted
This university’s Jewish community is hosting many events during the eight days of Passover this year, from March 30 through April 7.
Passover is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the freedom of Israelites in Egypt during the ancient times. The name of the holiday comes from the “passing over” that was done by God to the homes of the Israelites when afflicting Egypt with plagues and destroying people’s homes.
To remember this event, many Jews spend eight days celebrating Passover with their friends and family, and continuing the annual rituals that relate back to the ancient story of the holiday.
During the eight days, no food or drink made with yeast or other leavening agents is to be consumed. This tradition of avoiding leavened foods derives from the tale that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they did not have enough time to let the bread that they had baked rise.
The Seders, meals spent with friends and family, are held on the first two nights of Passover. Maryland Hillel organized four events for Seders this year on March 30 and March 31. On each night, there were two Seder events. “With Liberty and Justice for All: A Traditional Family-Style Seder” and “The Kids’ Table” both took place Friday night.
The former was led by Rabbi Aderet Drucker and Springboard Innovation Fellow Jessa Cameron, where there was conversing of people’s experiences with Passover and social justice issues. The latter was a more kid-friendly Seder that exhibited games and coloring.
On Saturday night, the “Fun & Games Seder” and the “Farm-to-Table Seder” took place. The first included games, songs and challenges while the second served locally sourced meat and other produce.
Maryland Hillel is also offering kosher for Passover meals offered this week. The cost is $13.95 per meal or $100 for the Passover student meal plan.
Drucker also wrote some “Passover inspiration” that is featured on the Hillel website. She talks about the importance of remembering why people of the Jewish faith celebrate Passover and that all of the traditions and preparations that go into the holiday can be seen as “rituals.” The laws of Passover and the four main rituals of Seder are mentioned as well.
Rebecca Magazine, a fall 2017 graduate with a linguistics degree, said, “If I hadn’t gone home I probably would have organized my own Seder with my friends on campus.”
The current University of Maryland research assistant enjoys sharing her family’s traditions and foods with her Jewish and non-Jewish friends. Matzah ball soup and chocolate caramel covered matzah are just a few examples of what Magazine brings to her Seder.
Some creative and fun Passover events happening on campus include Lotsa Matzah (Pizza) and Hillel North Chocolate Seder, both hosted by Maryland Hillel.
Lotsa Matzah, which took place on April 4 at La Plata, allowed students to eat delicious pizza while still following the Passover diet.
Mia Kaufman, a sophomore special education major who helped out with the Lotsa Matzah event, said, “for me, Passover is about family… it is important because it commemorates the Jew’s journey to freedom from slavery.”
If pizza did not not interest you, there is also a chocolate Seder on April 5 from 7-8 p.m. at the Cambridge Community Center. Participants will play Passover-related games and eat a non-traditional Seder meal.
“This event is important because it can be a good way for someone to get back in touch with their Judaism if they aren’t ready for a full-on seder,” said Matthew Braun, a freshman economics major who is planning the chocolate Seder.