Post-pandemic Seder focuses on freedom, community healing

Person+laughing+at+the+Passover+Seder+on+April+15+at+the+Lory+Student+Center.

Collegian | Mykyta Botkins

An event attendee laughs during the Passover Seder at the Lory Student Center April 15. This photo was taken before sundown in accordance with Jewish law.

Isabel Brown, News Reporter

On April 15, Chabad Jewish Student Organization hosted its 17th annual Community Passover Seder in the Lory Student Center. This event was co-sponsored by the Residence Hall Association, the Associated Students of Colorado State University and the LSC.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, who serves as faculty advisor for Chabad Jewish Student Organization, described the Passover Seder as one of the most important and most celebrated Jewish holidays.

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Chaia Geltser, president of Chabad Jewish Student Organization, explained this tradition celebrates when Jews became free from Egyptian slavery through the 15-step Passover Seder. These 15 steps stimulate every sense of the body through prayer and song, taste, smell and touch.

“After two years of COVID, we are finally back indoors. It just resonates with the theme of Passover about finding your own personal freedoms and trying to recreate, from the old, something new.” -Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, faculty advisor for Chabad Jewish Student Organization

“Remembering the fact that we are free, that’s what’s important,” said Noah Stubblefield, a Colorado State University alumnus who attended the event.

The Chabad of Northern Colorado website explains Seder as a traditional Passover feast that includes reading a Jewish text called the Haggadah, “drinking four cups of wine, telling stories, eating special foods, singing and other Passover traditions.” The website also explains the Seder should allow every person to feel as though they are leaving Egypt free from slavery, just as their ancestors did over 3,000 years ago.

This was the first Passover Seder held in person since 2019 because the yearly tradition was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which put a stop to this large community gathering. The Seder hosted all members of the community, not just CSU students.

“After two years of COVID, we are finally back indoors,” Gorelik said. “It just resonates with the theme of Passover about finding your own personal freedoms and trying to recreate, from the old, something new.”

The night began with matzah ball soup, which was eaten before Gorelik spoke to the room, explaining the purpose of the Seder was not to simply remember the history of Passover but to look within and recognize the things holding you back from reaching your full potential.

He then briefly explained the 15 steps of the Passover Seder. The first five steps are Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz and Maggid. Step six, Rachtzah, is to wash the hands again for the matzah step, and step seven, Motzi, is to perform a blessing over the matzah, a flatbread sacred to the Passover tradition. The eighth step, named for matzah, then involves sharing the bread and eating it.

The next two steps are Maror and Korech. Step 11, Shulchan Orech, is to eat the festive meal. The next three steps conclude the evening: Tzafun, Beirach and Hallel. Nirtzah, the final step, does not manifest in action but is rather God’s promise to accept the Seder service.

Each step has a strong significance and was narrated through several different skits or readings from the Haggadah, the text that tells the order of the Passover Seder, which was provided to everyone who attended.

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Macy Palbaum, a second-year CSU student, explained she is grateful CSU hosts this event, as it is her favorite holiday to celebrate but she can’t always go home for it since she isn’t from the area.

This Passover Seder event provides just that: a place for people to gather and celebrate this meaningful holiday regardless of who they are and where they are from.

Katelyn Newmann, who isn’t a CSU student, attended the event to meet like-minded people. She appreciated the sense of community it provided, placing emphasis on the importance of having something bigger than herself.

Gorelik said his favorite part of the Seder is seeing the joy on people’s faces: “It makes it all worth it.”

Reach Isabel Brown at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @isabelbrown02.