April 25, 2014
Seder helps community persevereOn April 14 students and
faculty were able to participate
in Susquehanna's Passover
Seder. The Seder was organized
and hosted by students
and faculty involved with Hillel,
the campus Jewish life organization.
Rabbi Palley, director
of Jewish life, provided more
information about the Seder.
"Passover is the most celebrated
Jewish holiday in America,"
she said. "It is a ritual dinner
where we retell the story of
the Exodus from Egypt and we
involve our family and friends
in celebrating being free."
Palley said that normally the
Seder can run two and a half to
three hours. This year's Seder
started at around 7:30 p.m. and
ended at 10:15 p.m. During
that time Palley said that they
try and recreate what it's like to
celebrate the Seder in Jewish
homes around the world. She
said that at the start of the Seder
the people participating were
organized into "family tables,"
where each table consisted of
a person's family and small
group to talk to for the night.
Palley said that there are
many different rituals performed
at the Seder throughout
the night, some of which they
put their own spin to. One of
the rituals is the hand washing
at the beginning of the Seder.
"We go around the table and
we wash someone else's hands,
and as someone is washing our
hands we say something we're
looking forward to cleansing
ourselves of and leaving behind,"
She added that one of the
themes of the Seder is the idea
of living like free people. One
of the ways that this idea can be
exemplified is by having others
do things for you. Rituals like
the washing of the hands and
the pouring of the grape juice
during the Seder are two ways
it is practiced, she said.
Palley and the students involved
in Hillel helped organize
the Seder. Palley said that
there were two different parts
to the planning. Being a main
university event, she said, there
had to be a lot of logistical
planning, such as catering the
food, setting up the layout of
the tables and planning the actual
"We decided what to keep,
what to cut out, who says what,
and we had meetings to prepare
and practice," Palley said.
Another aspect of the planning
process, Palley said, was
the invitation of the community,
which was a large part of
the Hillel students' job. Palley
added that though this was a
Jewish ceremony, everyone
was welcome to attend.
Palley added that an event
that happened recently the day
before the Seder was a shooting
in Overland Park, Kan.,
aimed at Jewish people outside
two Jewish facilties, which included
a Jewish nursing home
"It really tainted everything
about Passover," Palley said.
She added that President L. Jay
Lemons, who comes to every
Seder, spoke to the students and
faculty about this event.
Overall, Palley said that she
thinks the Seder was wonderful.
Because of the smooth
planning, she said she could be
more in the moment during the
Palley said: "Every family
has different customs of what
the Seder looks like, so coming
to a new Seder, it always feels
a little weird. But for the most
part they like it. For non-Jewish
students, it's fun and not at all
what they expect, which is also
very interesting because I never
know what they expect."
First-year Pamela Harvey
said that she enjoyed the Seder.
She said: "The Passover
dinner was a great event that
brought the community of
Susquehanna together to experience
Passover. I think it was
really great showing the Jewish
tradition to the campus and
having so many come and support
the small group of Jewish
students on this campus. On
top of being educational, it was
also fun to meet new people."
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