Thursday, March 21, 2013

Student reflects on Passover Seder meal

by Taylor Lunka, News Writer

My Tuesday night consisted of drinking wine, sipping on Matzah ball soup and nibbling on parsley.

This is the first time I have attended Passover Seder.

President Thomas Krise, his wife Patty, members of Campus Ministry and fellow Pacific Lutheran University students also attended the event in the Anderson University Center.

When I first arrived, I was unsure what to expect. All I knew was that this was going to be a dinner to celebrate a Jewish holiday put on by Campus Ministry.

The evening began with readings from the Concise Family Seder, which were read in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Junior Julia Walsh, student organizer for the event, helped read from the Family Seder along with Eli Berniker, a retired PLU professor of business. Berniker has served in both the Israeli Defense Force and the American armed forces.

Then everyone in the room had a chance to participate in the readings from the book.

I learned Seder is to celebrate the Passover holiday. Passover is to celebrate the story of Moses freeing the Jewish people from slavery.

We tasted a variety of food throughout the evening. With the first sip, I was surprised at how tart the wine tasted — it was sour each of the four times I tried it.

The four cups of wine represent the four expressions of deliverance promised by God.

After a couple more readings, we started eating bits of food.

The parsley tasting was next and totally unexpected. I wasn’t prepared to eat a raw herb and found the taste to be bitter. The Jewish people eat this as a symbol of the harshness of slavery in Ancient Egypt.

Next I was served a bowl of soup with a clear broth, parsley and bread balls.

I thought the bread was going to be soft, but instead it was mushy and had the texture of tofu. The broth was also extremely spicy — I wasn’t expecting that — but I still slurped it down.

Attendees then passed around a basket full of Matzah, wheat, barley and oats in a cracker-like form, and everyone took a piece. We then combined romaine lettuce, Matzah and apple cinnamon spread together like a sandwich.

Followed by more readings and songs, we were given a main course of chicken, potatoes and asparagus. The main course was what surprised me the least since those are foods I eat on a daily basis.

For dessert, attendees ate lemon sorbet in an ice cream dish brought to us by servers from Catering Services.

During the main course and dessert, I enjoyed talking with PLU students and Nancy Connor, university pastor. It was great to connect with other PLU students that I normally wouldn’t mingle with and get a feel for something that I don’t have any knowledge on.

“[The purpose of the event] is to expose the broader community of PLU to traditions not their own,” Walsh said.

She also said it was to reach out to the Jewish community at PLU.

This is what’s awesome about PLU — you can go to anything you want, even if you have no experience with it, and can totally feel welcomed in a matter of minutes.