Region’s Chabads Bringing Community Together for Pesach

To help get everyone celebrate Pesach, several Chabad centers in the region are hosting community seders.

To help get everyone celebrate Pesach, several Chabad centers in the region are hosting community seders.
Passover begins on April 22, which is when a majority of the seders will be held, said Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, executive director of both the Lubavitch House at the University of Pennsylvania and Center City Chabad.
He noted that there also will be a seder for the second night at Center City Chabad.
The community seders, which the centers in Philadelphia and surrounding counties have been doing for the past 35 years, are a way to bring the community together.
The Center City Chabad seder attracts everyone from students to senior citizens, said Schmidt.
The seders also serve as an opportunity for those who cannot make their own celebrations to still enjoy the holiday with friends and community, as well as a place for those who don’t have anywhere else to go for the holiday.
There also will be seders at the Kaiserman JCC and on campuses at local schools, including Temple University, Drexel University and Swarthmore College, among others.
These seders are important both spiritually and communally, Schmidt said. He is looking forward to the turnout and enjoying the holiday with others.
“It’s a real feeling of community,” he said.
Chabad of the Main Line is hosting an annual community seder on the first night of Pesach, which Rabbi Shraga Sherman described as one of his favorite events.
“I love the community seder,” he said. “At the Passover seder, there’s such a cross-section of the Jewish community that sits together. There’s such an energy of everyone playing off of each other, it’s magnificent to watch.”
He is expecting about 75 to 80 people for this year’s seder, which he emphasized isn’t just a community seder.
“It’s not that I’m doing this for the community and go make my seder later, but this is my family’s seder, as well, and we really approach it as if our family expanded to 75 people tonight,” he said. “Everyone’s family. All Jews are family. We serve the food I would serve at home. There’s a tremendous amount of respect and love around the tables.”
He named a laundry list of food people can expect, from staples such as chicken and gefilte fish to beet salad and macaroons. There will also be plenty of shmurah matzah, the hand-baked matzah that is a staple of many a seder.
One of Sherman’s favorite parts is packing up leftovers from the seder for people to take home. This way, he knows that they will have food for the next few days that is also kosher for Passover.
“The same way that God redeemed all the Jewish people,” said Sherman, “every Jew has a seat at the seder. There should be no empty seats at a seder. It’s a time the Jewish people get together in the epicenter of Judaism, which is the Jewish home. And every Jew should [have] that opportunity.”
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