By Molly Zatman
Erick Gilbert, the director of Hillel’s dining services, has already started the paperwork to sell Hillel’s hametz. Jews aren’t allowed to own hametz on Passover, so documents temporarily transferring ownership are put in place. (Molly Zatman/Mitzpeh)
Hillel’s dining service is preparing for Passover, the eight-day long Jewish holiday which strictly prohibits eating or owning leavened grains. This prohibition on foods, known as hametz in Hebrew, includes bread.
Hillel at this university offers a special dining plan for the week of Passover so that students can have access to kosher for Passover food on campus. Erick Gilbert, director of the dining services, told his staff to expect “30 or 40 more people at each meal” in addition to their regular crowd of around 100. “Whatever we’re doing, we should do about fifty percent more for the week of Passover.”
Sophomore computer science major Rafi Kaplan has a partial meal plan at the Hillel, which allows him to get a meal a few times a week. But he will be buying the Passover meal plan and is excited to see what the dining staff prepares.“I hope there’s some good matzah brei and matzah pizza, but I did hear all the meals are meat.”
The table which will host dairy breakfast options during Passover. (Molly Zatman/Mitzpeh)
“Only thing that’ll be dairy is cereal, milk and yogurt,” Gilbert said, gesturing to the side table which currently holds coffee containers. The rest of the kitchen will be using meat equipment for all meals, to simplify the already-complex kosher considerations.
A dining staff member looks through Hillel’s supply of Passover food. (Molly Zatman/Mitzpeh)
Even with this mostly-meat menu, Gilbert and Rabbi Michael Glaser, a subcontractor for Hillel’s dining, have created a diverse menu. Gilbert said the menu includes “steak night, shwarma, potatoes. And I’m looking at cuisines which lend themselves to being naturally kosher for Passover. And there’s going to be delicious cookies.”
Gilbert said “Passover is really hard for vegetarians because legumes — we don’t use them here [on Passover]. And because we’re nut free, we can’t do that. It may not be the most exciting vegetarian foods, it’ll be lower on the proteins. If they need dairy supplements we can always do something on the side, but that’s never been a problem before.”
Rabbi Michael Glaser, a subcontractor for Hillel’s dining plan, says all students on the Passover plan will find things to eat. (Molly Zatman//Mitzpeh)
Glaser, a vegan, isn’t concerned about meeting special dietary requirements. “We have a lot of options here,” he said.
Adam Speiser, a freshman computer science major, is already on the Hillel meal plan, but he’s looking forward to seeing everyone around during Passover. “I already appreciate the sense of community, but I know it’ll attract more people.”