Last week, on the evenings of April 12th and 13th, the Chabad Student Center
hosted two student-oriented Passover seders. The events were attended by so many students that a tent was rented and most of the backyard was converted into a huge dining room, complete with a YomTov-safe heating system.
The tables were covered with festive white tablecloths and each place was set immaculately. On the head table, two tall, polished, silver candelabra stood with candles burning, the light from the flames flickering and dancing among the various green, blue, and clear bottles of wine lined liberally along all the tables.
We eat many symbolic foods and read many traditional texts during Passover, but the Chabad House seder brought Jewish tradition into the 21st century in an engaging and meaningful way. Each step of the seder was accompanied by Rabbi Shlomie Chein's renowned running commentary and a choice of four or five varieties of wines (Manischewitz was nowhere to be found, and it's questionable whether it's actually a wine anyway).
Fourth-year student Jessica Steinberg, who attended the second seder, gushed that, "It was definitely the best seder that I've been to since I've been in college. It's the next best thing to being at home, because of the intimate atmosphere." Reflecting the sentiments of many students who attended, Jessica also thoroughly enjoyed what Rabbi Shlomie had to say, noting that, "For every part of the seder he incorporated life lessons." Jessica found that much of what R' Shlomie said was relevant to her life right now.
A Cabrillo student, Jacob Nixon, attended the first night's seder. He said,
"The seder at Rabbi Chein's was really inspirational. I spent the next day reading over and over the prayers he lead us in that night, taking in the meaning in English and practicing them out loud in Hebrew. What an awesome guy. The energy in the room during the service was so powerful; all of us together wanting to hear the Rabbi sing these prayers aloud the way our ancestors did. I felt consumed by everyone in that room, all of us praying together as one. I haven't felt so hyped up in a long, long time."
Of course, no seder would be complete without the se'uda
, the heart of the meal. Rebbetzin Devorah Leah, with the help of numerous student volunteers, artfully prepared an amazing feast, complete with fish, hearty vegetable salads, hot kugel, vegetables, and chicken, so that no one left with a dissatisfied palate (not the vegans, nor the vegetarians, nor the omnivores).
G-d willing, next year in Jerusalem. But for the time being, I'm so happy I got to be at the UCSC Chabad Student Center this year. A sincere thank you and yasher koach to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Chein, to Zalman Chein, to Mendy, to the Maitl Place, and to all the students who helped out.
Just a reminder that the Chabad Student Center will be hosting a mystical end-of-Passover seder
this Thursday evening at 7pm. They also host family-style Friday night dinners every Friday night at 8:00pm and every Jew is always welcome. Click here
to find out more.