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Jewish Students Association celebrates Passover Seder

| Wednesday, March 28, 2018

To celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Jewish Students Association of Notre Dame hosted a traditional Seder meal Tuesday night in the Coleman-Morse Center.

Senior Jonah Shainberg, co-president of the club, said the ritual feast is held to mark the beginning of the holiday.

“Passover celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt to freedom under the leadership of Moses,” he said in an email. “It is one the most important Jewish holidays and is celebrated over the course of a week each year.”

Kayla August, assistant director of evangelization at Campus Ministry, said she works with the Jewish Students Association every year to plan the event.

“I get to help them share their faith life and their tradition with the community,” she said.

Senior Alicia Twisselmann, co-president of the Jewish Students Association, said the organization also partners with the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, which helps lead the ceremony and provides the Passover meal.

For the service, guests were given Seder plates set with a number of traditional foods, each symbolizing a special aspect of Passover.

During the meal, presiders read the Haggadah, a Jewish text that is recited each Passover Seder. The Haggadah guides individuals through the Passover story and contains instructions for ceremonial customs, several prayers and psalms.

Twisselmann said reading the Haggadah helps promote understanding of Passover culture and tradition.

“It’s important to tell the story of Passover, to make sure we remember it,” she said. “It’s mentioned in the Seder that we need to tell the story, and the more we tell the story, the better we are.”

For attendees who were not of Jewish faith, Twisselmann said she hopes they “gained an appreciation for Jewish culture and of [its] rich history.”

She said she believes that the celebration non-Catholic holidays at Notre Dame can help encourage inclusion for all religions.

“It fosters a really good dialogue here on campus. A lot of the time people haven’t encountered any faiths other than Catholicism until now,” she said. “Having people get a chance to see how other people live and how other people celebrate is a good way to get a feel for a culture.”

Shainberg said despite Notre Dame’s Catholic tradition, he believes the University supports those of all faith backgrounds.

“I believe this campus fosters spirit — without limitation — and has made me identify more strongly with my faith than I ever have before,” he said. “We’ve had wholesome Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah celebrations at Notre Dame that will remain special memories for me in the years to come.”

August said she values interfaith events at Notre Dame because they sponsor diversity in the community.

“It’s just a privilege because not only do I get to share my faith and cultivate leadership, but I get to learn so much from the students too,” she said. “We all have different ways of praying and worshiping, and we can all come together over a meal and over traditions that mean a lot to us.”

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About Mary Steurer

Mary is a Computer Science Engineering major pursuing a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. If her journalism career doesn't work out, her Plan B is to start a petting zoo.

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