Hillel provides Passover events for students stuck at school

Rebecca Reis

Passover is an important holiday for family, but Kent State students away from home do not always have the option of going home. To remedy this, Hillel at Kent State holds events during the week of Passover to help students make the most of the holiday.

Hillel is holding a chametz burning at 11 a.m. Friday that is open to all students, where they will burn all the leftover leavened bread in the house. Rabbi Lee Moore explained that during Passover, Jews cannot eat bread that is made from one of the five biblical grains – wheat, oats, rye, barley and salt.

“For the week of Passover you don’t eat anything that is made from those five grains that has been leavened, or if there’s even a chance that it has been leavened,” said Moore. “In other words, if the grain hasn’t been washed then there’s a chance the yeast from the air has gotten into it.”

Hillel is also holding a Passover Seder, but since there is a lot of work involved in the Seder meal, only students who previously signed up can attend. The Seder is a dinner that involves 14 different steps that go in a specific order; “Seder” translates to “order.”

“Passover Seder happens once a year, and it is a remembrance of the Israelite people fleeing slavery in the land of Egypt,” Moore said. “It’s a ritual that Jews have done for at least 2000 years, and it essentially recounts the story that can be found in the book of Exodus.”

Hillel’s Seder is going to be medium length. Moore added that some Seders last so long that dinner isn’t served until after midnight.

The Seder is designed for students who cannot go home but still want to celebrate the holiday.

“This is the main holiday that most Jewish families come together for,” Moore said. “So for those students who aren’t able to make it back to their families, we do a Seder.”

Next week Hillel will be hosting lunches at 11 a.m. in the Cohn Jewish Student Center for students who want to eat kosher during Passover week.

“It’s kind of an extreme thing to not eat bread for a week when you’re used to eating bread — there’s a lot of stuff you can’t eat for that week,” Moore said. “In a place like Kent it can be hard to find special Passover food and in fact the Campus dining service doesn’t have kosher for Passover food. So it’s one of the services that we offer for students who are keeping the kind of diet for the week is that we’ve invited them to come for lunches.”

To some people, Passover is misunderstood as the Jewish equivalent of Easter. Moore said it’s a common misunderstanding, but Passover is actually very different.

“They’re both spring holidays, and they always happen around the same period of time, but Passover is an extensive, very family oriented, very critical,” Moore said. “The story of it – the story of the redemption from slavery in Egypt – it’s one of the key stories of the entire Jewish tradition. It’s a really big deal for us.”

Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected].