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Students celebrate Jewish holiday with chocolate twist


By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
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Why is this night different from all other nights, will be the question asked by the youngest participant at the Passover table, and tonight the youngest person at the Hillel Foundation might be wondering why chocolate is adorning the traditional Seder plate.

The chocolate Seder is open to students of all faiths and backgrounds and will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hillel Foundation, 1245 E. Second St., as a different twist in celebrating the Passover holiday, said event organizer, Esta-Beth Wentz.

Passover begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan at sundown and traditionally falls during March or April in the linear calendar. This year, the first night of Passover will be April 23.

With its traditional foods, songs and customs, the Seder is the focal point of the eight-day Passover observance. It's a time when Jewish families gather around dining room tables and read from the Haggadah prayer book commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites, or Jewish slaves, from Egypt.

Robyn King, an organizer of the event, said an assortment of chocolate candy would replace the traditional offerings usually found on the Seder plate, such as bitter chocolate representing the bitter herbs and a chocolate egg representing the traditional egg.

The Seder plate traditionally contains foods connoting the Israelites struggle and rise out of ancient Egypt including haroseth, a mixture of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples; parsley dipped in salt water symbolizing springtime and the tears of the Jewish slaves; a roasted egg symbolizing springtime; a shank bone symbolizing the sacrificial lamb offering; and bitter herbs such as horseradish reflecting the bitter affliction of slavery.

Wentz, an international studies sophomore, said participants will be reading from a specially made Haggadah showing the "history of chocolate" and the "chocolate plagues that ravaged the Egyptian citizenry."

King, an elementary education sophomore, said Passover is a holiday much like Thanksgiving where family and friends get together and share the holiday experience. She said she hopes the event can do that for the people who attend.

"We want everyone to have fun while still appreciating the traditions of the holiday," King said.

Wentz said the idea for the chocolate Seder was to bring a different approach to the table by teaching students about Passover before the holiday officially starts and to entice students to come while still keeping with the basic tenets of the holiday.

"Everyone can appreciate chocolate," Wentz said.

Adam Frankel, an undeclared freshman, said he will be attending the event and said it's a great way for students to learn about Passover and the traditions behind the holiday.

Frankel said Passover means a lot to him and is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate a "great religious holiday." He said he would celebrate the first night of Passover at home in Cincinnati at his neighbor's house and would invite his neighbors to his house for the second night, which often lasted past 1 a.m.



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