Passover Seder has guests ponder freedom

Caitlin Baltzer, a Masters in Child Life graduate student, recites a blessing over a glass of grape juice at the Passover Seder meal hosted by ULV Interfaith Fellows and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life on Wednesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. The blessing was one of four that take place during a traditional Seder. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook
Caitlin Baltzer, a Masters in Child Life graduate student, recites a blessing over a glass of grape juice at the Passover Seder meal hosted by ULV Interfaith Fellows and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life on Wednesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. The blessing was one of four that take place during a traditional Seder. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

Margaret Contreras
Staff Writer

The University’s Passover Seder dinner was held on Wednesday. in the Quay Davis Boardroom, hosted by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and led by Cantor Paul Buch from Temple Beth Israel in Pomona. 

Students, families and faculty participated in the event with about 50 guests in total. 

Guests sat at circular tables covered in white tablecloths, each place setting had two cups, one for water and one for wine – or grape juice –  for the event. Buch showed the guests what a traditional Seder plate looks like and explained the symbolism of each of the six items it featured.

The Passover Seder is a Jewish a tradition that dates back thousands of years. The dinner tells the story of how the Jews were freed from about 400 years of slavery in ancient Egypt. Each item served during dinner is to remember and teach the next generation about what happened in the past.

Parsley or another type of green is served and dipped in salted water to remember the tears of the Jews during the time they were slaves in Egypt. The charoset,  a fruit-and-nut paste, symbolizes the slaves making the bricks. Horseradish signifies the bitterness they felt against Egypt. And the hard-boiled egg on the plate represents rebirth.

Three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all have great exodus stories as part of their foundations. 

Cantor Paul Buch from Temple Beth Israel in Pomona leads the University of La Verne community for a traditional Passover Seder dinner Wednesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. The Seder is a traditional retelling of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

“During the dinner (we) talk about issues both in the past and present,” Buch said. “We don’t want a passive dinner. We want the people to experience something more.”

Between readings from the Haggadah, the book which tells the story of Passover, Buch asked guests to share what they struggle to be free from. Many replied “anxiety and stress.”  

“Not all of us are free from slavery, even if we are not in Egypt,” Buch said. 

Many non-Jews attended to learn about the Seder’s rich traditions. For many, it was their first time experiencing such a dinner.

“This was a wholesome experience,” Amnaa Taha, senior political science major, said. “I didn’t realize that it would be so interactive. I thought there was going to be a lecture with dinner.”

Adonis Borer, junior psychology major, organized the event this year, and it was their first time doing so. 

“I have been attending these ever since I can remember,” Borer said. “ULV has been doing this for so many years that the recipes were already there, that helped. I was very excited to be able to do it.”

Some students from the University’s child life master’s program attended, they said, to gain understanding of the different religions they will encounter in hospitals for their future work. 

Erin Brese, a student in the master’s program, said the event was an eye-opener.

“I will take what I learned tonight and use it in my tool kit when working with patients and families,” Brese said. “I (value) the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Margaret Contreras can be reached at margaret.contreras@laverne.edu.

Students in the Masters in Child Life program take part in the annual Passover Seder dinner Wednesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. The table was filled with the elements of a traditional Seder, including matzos, parsley, horseradish, hard boiled eggs and grape juice. / photo by Sheridan Lambrook

Magaret Contreras is a sophomore communications major with a concentration in public relations. She is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

Sheridan Lambrook, a senior journalism major with a concentration in visual journalism, is photography editor and a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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