Passover to be celebrated on Northwestern’s campus

Lauren Mogannam

For Weinberg sophomore Alyson Weiner, a Reform Jew, it can be hard to keep kosher on campus during Passover.

“The whole point is that it’s not supposed to be easy,” she said. “You’re supposed to be making a sacrifice.”

Many Northwestern students – Jewish or otherwise – spend time during Passover at traditional seders that involve friends and family.

For students like Weiner, strict dietary rules can make the eight-day holiday a challenge.

Kosher food stations have been moved from the dining halls to the Fiedler Hillel Center, which means the food is only offered at certain times and students must swipe their WildCARDs for meals, Weiner said.

“I sometimes eat dinner at 8 p.m., and Hillel is only open at certain times,” she said. “It is just easier to get matzah and jam in my room.”

To help students make it through the first two nights of Passover, Hillel and the Tannenbaum Chabad House offer students various options, whether they choose to celebrate on campus, at a Greek house or in the Evanston community.

The annual eight-day Jewish holiday celebrating the Israelites’ freedom from Egyptian bondage begins Wednesday night at sundown. During the holiday, Jews are expected to eat matzah, or unleavened bread, and avoid foods such as bread, pasta and cake in remembrance of the Jews fleeing Egypt.

Hillel will be holding campus-wide communal seders, said Assistant Director Cydney Topaz.

Weinberg sophomore Sharyn Ioffe said she plans to attend the seder at Zeta Beta Tau on Thursday night.

“I thought it would be more fun to be in a bigger setting where I can go with my friends,” she said. “It will be an interesting experience.”

Hillel also makes it possible for students to celebrate with family – even if it’s not their own, Topaz said.

“Passover traditionally is a holiday that you spend with family, so we offer home hospitality options,” she said. “There are lots of different hosts in the community, including Northwestern alums.”

Weiner is going home for the second seder, but said she decided to sign up to be placed with a family in the Evanston area for the first seder.

“I decided it would be nice to have a seder with a real family,” she said. “You are actually meeting a whole family and becoming part of their year.”

Like Hillel, the Chabad House will place students with families in the area but encourages them to come to campus communal “family style” seders that “have a blend of culture, history and mysticism,” said Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein of the Chabad House.

Alpha Epsilon Pi, in association with Chabad, will be hosting a seder in the faculty lounge of the Technological Institute that combines fraternity bonding with Jewish ritual, said AEPi President Adam Janet.

“We consider it a brotherhood event,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “We have a couple of people who will lead the seder and cook. It’s just a good way to spend time together, bond and have fun.”

Although deadlines for seder registrations have already passed, both Hillel and the Chabad House will welcome last-minute reservations.

“Students can show up,” Rabbi Klein said. “We don’t want a single student not to have a place for Passover.”

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