ASST. PHOTOS EDITOR
“It is always exciting to share an event that holds incredible religious and personal significance to me with my entire community,” said third-year and President of Jewish Student Union, Maya Eylon.
President Herzberger hosted the Jewish Student Union on Friday, March 30, as they celebrated the Passover Seder. The word “Seder” actually means “order.” It is called this because the meal is done in a certain order, which takes guests from slavery to freedom. This is the JSU’s second year hosting this event. The first Whittier College Passover Seder was held last year in the Hartley House and was hosted by Paul Kjellberg. This year, the dinner had around fifty attendees, including students, professors, faculty, staff and community members. “We were thrilled for the opportunity to hold such a special and traditional Jewish event at the President’s House this year,” said Eylon. “We were also incredibly honored that President Herzberger and her husband were able to join us in our celebration. As a club, we are excited by the potential of this annual event in engaging not only the Jewish population within Whittier College, but the entire Whittier Community.”
The Whittier College Jewish Student Union normally has around eight students who consistently attend regular meetings. “Along with the dedicated members of this club,” said Eylon, “I have been working hard as President of the Jewish Student Union to help grow our club to its fullest potential. Like in years past, our club continues to focus on the cultural and traditional aspects of Judaism. We feel that this allows us to bring communities together in a peaceful and positive atmosphere where we can learn and grow at the same time.”
Despite their different backgrounds and beliefs, everybody gathered together to celebrate the time-honored Jewish tradition of Passover. At the beginning of the event, a candle-lighting ceremony was held to mark the beginning of the Jewish holiday. Afterward, everybody found a seat at the long, rectangular table set up in the middle of President Herzberger’s courtyard. Booklets of the Haggadah were placed in front of everybody so all could follow along. Members of the Jewish Student Union sat around the head of the table. The Haggadah, or “the telling,” is the book used at the Passover Seder. The Haggadah explains the foods on the seder plate, recounts the highlights of the Exodus, and includes songs, prayers, questions, and vignettes.
Toward the beginning of the ceremony, a piece of a cracker called matzah had been broken and hidden by a member of the JSU somewhere in the first floor of the President’s house. Once Eylon read the story of the Exodus from Egypt and her younger brother asked four questions in Hebrew, blessings were recited before everybody could eat a sandwich of matzah, maror, and charoset (a sweet dish made with apple, nuts, cinnamon and grape juice). Another part of the Haggadah was read before Bon Appétite served chicken matzo ball soup, chicken, rosemary potatoes, asparagus, and other delicious food. At the table, people could choose from wine, grape juice, or water to drink.
After everyone had finished eating, students were allowed to explore and look for the hidden piece of matzah. The person who found it won a bag of money: a dollar placed for every person attending. As a sort of dessert, everybody in attendance was given another piece of matzah. To conclude the Passover Seder, the phrase, “lashana haba’a b’irushalayim,” which means “next year, may we be in Jerusalem,” was said before everybody was allowed to leave.
“I was very pleased with how the Passover dinner went,” Eylon said afterward. “Being able to engage and educate individuals who are Jewish, as well as those with different beliefs, faiths, and traditions, is a humbling experience.”