Kehillat Shalom hosts annual Passover Seder celebration

Charlotte Elliott, Campus Life Editor

Whitman’s Kehillat Shalom celebrated the annual Passover Seder in a traditional gathering open to all Whitman students. The Seder, this year held on April 19, is a Jewish ritual performed at the beginning of Passover to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

The Passover story, as told in the Torah, follows the perseverance of the Jewish people from their desire for freedom to their experience of the 10 plagues. This eventually led to their escape from Egypt through the Red Sea leading them to Canaan, later to be known as Israel.

The Passover Seder typically has a balance of cultural and religious traditions with a feast of Passover foods, as well as the reading of the Haggadah, and the recitation of the Four Questions. Zachary Levitan ’22 usually celebrates Passover with his family and friends; however, Levitan has enjoyed the opportunity to connect with others on campus.

“I feel like holidays like these allow me to embrace my Jewish heritage while also sharing the customs and food I grew up around. This year, I made a matzah ball soup to celebrate, and I humbly believe it was much better than the one Bon App whipped up,” Levitan said. “A college Seder is much different than the ones of my childhood, most notably because I was finally at the age to make it through the four glasses of wine.”

The Passover Seder is also about welcoming members of the local area to celebrate with the Jewish community and have a night of learning, games, music and food. This includes people who may not have been to a Passover Seder before, one of the highlights for sophomore Shawn Vinogradsky.

“I had a really positive experience at the Passover Seder this year. The Seder reminded me a lot of celebrating Passover at home but also incorporated traditions that were new to me,” Vinogradsky said. “I also really enjoyed the fact that there were a lot of people who were unfamiliar with the Passover Seder but came to learn and celebrate with us.”

For many students, the Passover Seder is a time for learning but also a time to have a celebration with the people around you, relax and have some fun with friends. Mia Graham ’24 is a co-president of Kehillat Shalom and emphasized how much fun a Passover Seder actually is.

“I loved the moment when Nissa and Tali, my fellow co-presidents, put on a hilarious skit about why we put an orange on the Seder plate,” Graham said. “It’s a great story—ask us about it when you see us around. The skit was also a highlight. Commanding renditions of Moses and Hebrew #1 had the room on the edge of their seats!”

For Whitties, the Seder is often a time to share traditions from their own families and learn new ways of celebrating from friends. Graham found it difficult to be away from her family during this holiday but knew that she would have just as much fun in this new community.

“The Jewish community at Whitman has defined my college experience—I love bringing my family traditions to the group and making new ones with friends during the holidays,” Graham said. “The Seder at Whitman this year was actually one of my favorite Seders of all time!”

This year’s Seder was a resounding success due to the work of Kehillat Shalom and other members of the Jewish community. Levitan was especially grateful for their hard work.

“I would like to include a thank you to the Jewish club for hosting such a fun Seder and for providing a space for us to embrace our Jewish heritage,” Levitan said.

The Passover Seder is an annual celebration held by Kehillat Shalom. If you missed it this year, be sure to check it out in Spring 2023!