It’s that blessed time of year where we at Wesleyan are given yet another chance to discuss themes of oppression, drink copious amounts of wine, and participate in vegan potlucks. It’s Passover: the festival that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery.
Central to this lovely breadless festival is the seder, a ritual meal which reenacts and retells the story of said liberation. Growing up I attended the quintessential “liberal Jewish intellectual hippy Seder,” complete with articles about the oppression of migrant workers and “safe spaces” to talk about my own oppression. I also once participated in the two-minute seder, acted out the ten plagues, and told the Passover story in tweet form. I thought I had seen it all when it came to the weird things liberal people do at Seders, and then I came to Wes.
Those ever “quirky’ Wesleyan students (#thisiswhy) certainly make Passover their own. This year Jews and Non Jews a like gathered for official and unofficial Seders complete with solo cups, inclusive language, original songs, costumes, and of course extensive discussion of oppression. Here’s a round-up of a few of these fine ritual meals:
I had the privelege of attending a meaty but joyful seder led by WesJewCelebs Sydney Hausman-Cohen ’13, Ryan Katz ’13, Sarah Cassel ’13, Zach Steinman ’13, and Daphna Spivack ’13.
The Seder was open to all and guests came from all class years, with some Seder virgins.
The dream team switched back and forth between the traditional and Wesleyan Hagaddah (compiled by students from the Contemporary Radical Jewish Thought Student Forum which is pictured above).
Seder goers were told that “wine was plentiful so don’t be shy” #liberation.
The Passover story was told popcorn style (“and then she was like Oh My God there is a baby in that basket”) with people jumping in whenever they felt like it (citations to the Prince of Egypt were frequent and welcome).
The freshman angelically chanted the four questions.
Noah Masur ’15’s lively reading of the Dr. Seuss version of the four questions was immensely well received.
Guests enjoyed matzo ball soup, brisket, roasted chicken, chocolate-covered matzah and the food of our ancestors: Quinoa.
Elijah the prophet came in and drank wine out of a solo cup.
The Seder raged on long after dinner with loud singing, clapping and banging (probably fueled partially by the final two cups of wine)
From Will Feinstein ’13:
We used a Haggadah I mostly compiled last year. It has all the things in it but it’s pretty condensed. It also has a lot of singalongs, like “When the Jews Go Wash Their Hands” (to the tune of When the Saints go Marching In), and “I Can’t Eat No (Bread That’s Leavened)” (to the tune of I Can’t Get No Satisfaction). Added a section to the seder this year about remembering loved ones. Also a version of the Four Brothers to the tune of My Darling Clementine, which was sung stanza by stanza by groups of five or so people at a time.
It was sort of pot-lucky? We ran out of manischewitz quickly, probably in the middle of the second cup of wine. There were like 20+ people so that wasn’t hard. For many, it was their first seder. There were many Jews and many non-Jews, as all are welcome at a seder.
Neon Deli donated the cutlery and napkins, which was extremely nice of them.
The young Zack Kantor ’15 asked the four questions (they were sung by people who could sing them in Hebrew and he then repeated them in English).
Caleb Corliss ’13 beautifully read the Ten Plagues in Hebrew and everyone echoed them in English.
Mickey Capper ’13 found the Afikomen. He got a dollar. Audrey Kiley ’13 got to hide it.
Zak Malik ’14, the so-called King of the Jews, relentlessly shouted “Yarmulke!” and “Chag Samoa” (trying to say Chag Sameach). He isn’t Jewish.
Henry Molofsky ’13 dressed like this on my request:
This is the second Jewish event I like to lead every year. The first is the annual High Stakes dreidel game, where I won $50 this year.
From Marj Dodson ’13 and Adam Issacson ’13
Over at 84 gnome, we had a Liberation Seder, complete with Audre Lorde quotes.
It should be noted that the Liberation Seder Haggadah was heavily redacted in real time, when we realized how extreme much of the language is.
It was my first time attending a seder in which the leader reads the haggadah on his iPad.
Abby Neufeld ’16 weighed in on the official Wesleyan Seder:
“I feel like this is going to be a very Wes Seder,” I heard a fellow freshman say as we began Monday night’s Wesleyan community Seder . For many of the large number of freshman in attendance, it was their first Seder away from home. Though some were disappointed at the lack of brisket, and some at missing rituals, there were also a number of new things to be enjoyed. The seder opened with a dance style relaxation led by Elisa Waugh ’13. Later, a guest Rabbi shared his ritual of passing the Seder plate over every person’s head. There were also a number of Individual table discussions spurred on by questions posed by Rabbi David Teva. Surprisingly, the Seder did include Manischevits.
From Em Trambert ’13
It was pretty casual, we found various online hagaddah (including a 2 minute seder), and our service probably took a total of 15 minutes.
It was really nice though to share various traditions (and obviously eat copious amounts of delicious homemade food) with friends
We did make the youngest in the room find the afikomen (which was hidden in a box of oreos, ironically).