University News

Simultaneous Passover and Easter causes for celebration

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009
Correction appended.

As Passover and Easter coincided this weekend, Brown students found many ways to celebrate around campus, including Seders hosted by Hillel and church services at Manning Chapel.

Hillel hosted Seder dinners Wednesday and Thursday night. Nine different Seders — dinners to commemorate the Passover holiday ­— were hosted at Hillel on Wednesday night, the first night of Passover.

One was led by Rabbi Mordechai Rackover, the University’s associate Jewish Chaplain, and the others were led by students, Executive Director of Hillel Megan Nesbitt said.
A total of 381 people attended Wednesday’s various Seders, she said. Hillel also supplied twenty “Seder kits” to students who wished to host their own Seders, she added.

Ali Wolfson ’12, who attended the traditional Seder led by Rabbi Rackover, said the night was “very fun.” She also went to Hillel’s Thursday Seder, which she called “cozy.” While she was “really sad” she could not celebrate the holiday at home, she said the Hillel Seders were a good substitute.

Miriam Klein ’09, who is from Providence, spent Wednesday’s Seder with her family.
Klein said she has always been home for at least one of the two Seders, but for Thursday night, she helped organize an open Seder with a grant from Hillel. While she enjoys spending one night with her family, she said she also wanted to have one with the people she is closest to now — her “surrogate family.”

The first nights of Passover came in the middle of the Christian Holy Week, which started on Palm Sunday and ended yesterday, a week later, on Easter Sunday.
University chaplains conducted Catholic and Ecumenical services at Manning Chapel during Holy Week, spanning from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson said.

Many “people we don’t see other times,” who do not attend church regularly, come to Easter services, Cooper Nelson said. People from the community also attend the services, she said.

Like Klein, some students went home to celebrate the holidays.
Elizabeth Schaja ’11 returned home to Long Island for a Passover Seder. Though Passover is not one of the Jewish High Holy Days, it is “one of the big custom holidays,” she said. It is a “nice family time,” she said, adding that she enjoyed partaking in her family’s traditions for the holiday.

Molly Bledsoe ’12, from Barrington, R.I., decided to stay on campus, and sang in the choir at the nearby St. Stephens Episcopal Church during the Holy Week, she said. She was able to sing in the services without missing much class, she said.
Even for nonreligious students, the holidays presented an opportunity to experience different religious traditions, Cooper Nelson said.

Some students, for example, observed Lent as a personal — not religious — challenge.
Holly Lauridsen ’11 and Diane Mokoro ’11 challenged each other to abstain from bread and cereal, foods they both eat often. Though Mokoro grew up Catholic, she said she sees Lent as “another way to start over,” comparing it to New Year’s resolutions.

“I just like seeing if I can not do something,” Lauridsen said.

Except for the week of spring break, they both succeeded in avoiding temptation, they said. But, after Mokoro ate matzo this week, Lauridsen declared victory after searching the Internet to find that matzo is a form of bread.

Hillel is continuing to provide meals for students observing Passover through the end of the holiday. Some students choose to eat their meals at Hillel rather than the dining halls because the food has been prepared according to Passover’s stricter dietary restrictions. Wolfson and Klein said they appreciated the convenience of eating at Hillel.

The holiday season isn’t over yet though, Cooper Nelson said. While Western Christianity celebrated Easter this weekend, Orthodox Christianity operates by a different calendar and will be observing Easter this coming weekend, she said.

An article in Monday’s Herald (“Simultaneous Passover and Easter causes for celebration,” April 13) reported that the traditional seder hosted at Hillel on April 8 was presided over by Rabbi Mordechai Rackover. The traditional seder was in fact run by Ethan Tobias ’12.