U. changes Spring Weekend’s schedule in response to Passover conflict

Community-wide Seder to be included in program

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

University officials decided to conclude Spring Weekend’s “major social events,” including traditional campus-wide parties, by Saturday afternoon in order to allow those celebrating Passover to travel or participate in campus Seders, according to an e-mail sent to undergraduates by the Office of Campus Life.

The dates of Spring Weekend will not be changed, because doing so “would mean diminishing the program significantly,” according to the e-mail.

In February, the Greek Council announced that Rage on Wriston, a popular student band concert held Saturday of Spring Weekend on Wriston Quadrangle, will be moved to Friday.

Greek Council President Chris Guhin ’05 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that there will be no official parties of over 250 people between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday.

Evin Isaacson ’05, vice president of religious life for the Hillel Executive Board, said she is “pretty sure” smaller parties can still go on.

“Saturday evening there are no official University events. … I don’t think it’s asking too much to not have official university parties from 8 (p.m.) to 10,” she said.

These changes will allow students observing Passover, which begins at sundown April 23, more time to travel and make Seder preparations.

A “broadly inclusive” Seder aimed at sharing the Jewish festival with different parts of the Brown community will be held the Saturday of Spring Weekend at 8 p.m. in the Hillel building.

“There are so many different levels of observances. It will actually be 10 different Seders happening at once at Hillel,” said Isaacson, who was instrumental in planning the event. “It’s about however you feel like participating. Some Seders last four hours, other last one (hour).”

Isaacson noted that the event “is not simply a Hillel thing.”

“We have a social justice Seder, a sustainable food Seder and a freedom Seder. It may not be traditional, but these themed Seders were meant to be imbued with the unexpected. They fit in with the holiday’s celebration of freedom and triumph over oppression,” Isaacson said.

Ricky Gresh, director of student activities, said the idea of the Seder came over a month ago when the University first began dealing with the Spring Weekend conflict.

“We did a call for students interested in running Seders, getting rabbis from the community to help out students,” Gresh said.

Traditionally, students do not have much experience leading Seders, since it is usually the role of the head of a family, Isaacson said.

“Seders have a certain order that needs to be followed. It will definitely be a learning experience for students,” she said.

Isaacson also praised University officials for the way they have dealt with the Spring Weekend conflict and their sensitivity to those observing Passover. The University will provide Kosher food during the Seder free of charge.

“I really appreciate the efforts the University has made to acknowledge its mistake and make it into a positive experience,” Isaacson said.