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Passover Comes to Low

by Anastasia Gornick and David Xia – Columbia Daily Spectator

New York, NY — While some students burned the midnight oil in Butler Library on Monday night, many others burned ceremonial candles, kicking off the weeklong Jewish holiday of Passover with traditional seders.

The Chabad Resource Center hosted a seder-a traditional meal during which participants pray, eat ceremonial food, and retell the story of the Jews fleeing from slavery in Egypt-in Low Library Rotunda last night for approximately 70 Columbia students and their guests.

Rabbi Yonah Blum led the seder, which had to be moved from its usual location in the Chabad Center on 113th Street because of the large number of students attending.

“I wanted to help make a meal where everyone would feel at home,” said Shayna Busch, CC ’10, a member of Chabad’s executive board.

During the seder-a Hebrew word literally meaning “order”-participants eat foods which represent various aspects of the story. For many Jews, it is a time for family, and with the holiday falling on a Monday this year, it was harder for some students to make it home. The Chabad seder was one of many options, in addition to Barnard and Columbia Hillel, homes of friends who live locally, and area synagogues, available to students stuck in Morningside.

“We try to offer a home away from home,” Rabbi Blum said about Chabad House. The Rabbi was surrounded by his wife Karen and their three daughters-Shoshana, 7, Esther, 5, and Chana, 3-who enthusiastically participated even as 11 p.m. approached, well past bedtime.

Students took turns reading from the Haggadah, the book that tells the seder story, and Low Rotunda was decked out with four hand-washing stations and candles.

“I attended especially since my family doesn’t do it [seder] in the most traditional way,” Shana Knizhnick said at the meal.

Chabad Resource Center is one of the largest Jewish student groups on campus. Rabbi Blum has been with the center for 10 years and said he is committed to its goal of improving Jewish student life on campus, and that providing a place for students to attend seder dinner was part of that mission.

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