Passover Seder returns to the Elms

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Georgianna Port, a member of the Hillel executive board, breaks matzah -- unleavened bread -- for the afikomen -- a piece of matzah that is typically hidden until the end of the meal when the children search for it, at last year's Seder, which was held in the CSL instead of at the Elms because of the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Sami Aziz (2021).

Monday, Apr. 18 marked the return of a longstanding DePauw tradition—the celebration of the Passover Seder at the President’s home, the Elms. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seder dinner has not been hosted by the President for two years. In fact, this was President Dr. Lori White’s first time hosting the feast. 

The Seder Dinner signifies the celebration of the exodus of Egypt for Jewish people. Junior Sloan Goldblatt is the current President of Hillel, DePauw’s Jewish organization. He said that for Jewish families, the holiday is a time to remember the liberation of the Jewish people in Egypt. It is also a time to “celebrate those who have suffered and are still suffering. Additionally, it is a time to get closer with friends and family as well as a time to celebrate the lineage of Jewish people around the world,” Goldblatt said.

The Seder is celebrated once a year during the eight day period of Passover. Most families only celebrate it once, though more Orthodox families celebrate it all eight days. In 2022, Passover began on Apr. 15 and ended on Apr. 23. Within the Seder is a specific order of multiple steps, each with their own significance and relating to a time when the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt. 

This was junior Emma St. John’s first Seder dinner. While she is non-religious, she said she attended the event to support her friends who are involved in Hillel. She said she enjoyed how welcoming the president, first gentleman, and the Hillel community were. One of St. John’s favorite parts of the evening was when participants read the Haggadah, the Jewish text used in the celebration of the Passover Seder. The Haggadah provided her with both an educational and spiritual experience. She also appreciated how rooted in history the Seder was and how it was turned into a celebration. She further enjoyed that several faculty and staff attended the event. “It shows how supportive the faculty here are,” St. John said. 

On White’s hosting of the dinner, Goldblatt commented that it was “a great way to show our traditions and values to those on campus. It’s also a great way to spread the word about DePauw’s vibrant Jewish community.” He loves how open the Hillel community is to both Jewish students and those simply interested in learning more about Judaism.

 If you are interested in getting involved with Hillel or Judaism, don’t hesitate to email Goldblatt at sloangoldblatt_2023@depauw.edu