When Danielle Weisbord, a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz, found out the college was only allowing students one day off this year for Passover, she was upset she wouldn’t be able to go home to celebrate. However, when she found out that near campus a Passover Seder would be held, she was glad she would still be able to stay in touch with her Jewish roots.
The Chabad Jewish Student Center in New Paltz held the first night of their annual Passover Seder last Monday. Everyone was allowed to attend and sit in on the tradition, regardless of their background. The Seder was run by Rabbi Moshe Plotkin and his wife Bracha.
This was the first year that SUNY New Paltz did not have a vacation for Passover. The students were given off Monday after 3 pm, and all of Tuesday. However, this did not allow some students, like Weisbord, to go home.
“I was really upset that I couldn’t go home for Passover,” Weisbord said. “This holiday really makes me feel connected to my religion, so when New Paltz took it away from me I was kind of mad.”
Passover is a holiday celebrated in Judaism that explains the journey the Jewish people went through to be freed from slavery in Egypt. There are 15 steps in order to become a free person and to complete the Passover Seder. The traditions include songs, wine, matzah and readings.
Through some friends, Weisbord heard about the Chabad Jewish Center, and started attending weekly Shabbats.
“It was really great that they offered this service because otherwise I would’ve completely missed celebrating Passover this year,” Weisbord said.
Rabbi Plotkin did a shortened Seder for the first night, saving the in-depth explanations of the traditions and insight of Passover for the second night on Tuesday. Each person at the Seder was involved in at least one aspect of the traditions. People volunteered to read in Hebrew, eat lettuce with chunks of horseradish, or light the candles to start the process.
The Chabad club at New Paltz also helps students to stay connected to their Judaism. Co-president Molly Gavens said that it is very important to her that people get involved with the club, and then become involved with Rabbi Plotkin and Bracha.
“Rabbi Plotkin and Bracha are the club advisers, and they are so great,” Gavens said. “They really make you feel welcome and like you are celebrating with family.”
Passover is a time where Jewish people are not allowed to have any chametz, grains mixed with water that are left to sit for more than 18 minutes, so throughout the house there was nothing with chametz in sight.