Gustavus Passover Seder

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Alumni Hall

Gustavus Adolphus College

800 West College Ave

Saint Peter, MN 56082

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Passover is a holiday of tremendous importance in Jewish tradition, celebrating freedom from slavery and oppression. For close to two thousand years, Jews have marked the first night or two of Passover with a ritual meal called a seder, filled with prayer, song, special ritual foods, and a fabulous meal. Because Passover plays a significant role in the Gospels, many Christians find the ritual meaningful as well. Each generation imbues the seder with its own messages of freedom. Come join with us for a traditional Jewish seder, enjoy the ritual, the food, and the company, learn some new songs, and gain an appreciation of this ancient and modern tradition.

Tickets will be available on April 11, 2016 for anyone who has not been pre-registered through a class.


1. What should I wear?

Whatever you normally wear when going to someone’s house for dinner.

2. Will I need to wear a kippah?

We will have black kippot (skullcaps or yarmulkes) available for those who want to wear them. We will provide different-colored kippot for those who are designated as “table leaders” so we can identify them quickly (that’s not a Jewish tradition--that’s just for convenience)!

3. Will there be assigned seats?

Each table will have a number. Those registering as table leaders will be assigned a table. Others can sit wherever they want.

4. I need to come late. Can I?

Unfortunately, no. If you arrive after 6:10, your ticket may go to someone on the waiting list. Doors will close at 6:15.

5. I need to leave early. Can I come anyway?

We expect that those coming to the Seder will stay until the end. If your professor is requiring or recommending that you attend, chances are they expect you to stay until 9. The meal will not be served until 7:30, and some of the most interesting parts of the Seder occur near the end, after the meal.

6. When will we eat?

Appetizers will be available when you arrive. About an hour later, you’ll get small amounts of certain ceremonial foods (part of the ritual). The meal itself will be served starting around 7:30. You may want to have a snack before coming.

7. Can I bring a guest?

The Gustavus seder is open to the entire Gustavus community and their families. Each person coming will need to register individually to ensure we have enough spots for everyone.

8. What is a ‘table host’?

Those invited to register as table hosts have prior experience leading or attending Jewish seders, took the J-term class “Experiencing the Passover Seder,” or are comfortable taking on this role. Ideally, we will have one such person at each table. If we end up with more tables than hosts, we will ask someone at the remaining tables to volunteer for the role. The table host will have certain easy tasks, like reciting certain parts of the haggadah (the booklet that serves as a guide to the ritual).

9. If I have prior experience with seders, should I let you know in advance?

Certainly! Send an email to Marian Broida ( letting her know the kind of experience you have had, and whether the seder was a Jewish one or not. We will be looking for new table leaders until April 16.

10. What is a seder?

A seder is a Jewish ritual dating back some 2000 years that commemorates the biblical Exodus from Egypt. It usually takes place in the home at dinnertime the first or second nights of the 8-day holiday of Passover. The seder starts with about an hour of readings, prayers, and songs, following a special seder prayerbook called a haggadah. Next comes a meal, a traditional game, then a few more prayers and songs.

11. Isn’t a seder for Jewish people?

The seder is a Jewish tradition, but one of the traditions is to invite guests, who may belong to other religions (or none). This particular seder is a “teaching seder” so Gustavus students can learn more about Jews and Judaism. In recent decades, some Christians have adapted the seder in different ways. The Gustavus seder will follow the Jewish model.

12. How can I learn more about the seder beforehand?

You can read more about Passover Seders here:

There are two workshops you can attend:

Passover Singing Workshop
April 13 at 6:30–8 pm in the President's Dining Room

Learn Passover songs in preparation for the Gustavus Passover Seder the following Wednesday--or just for fun! Co-taught by Anya Rodgers and Dr. Marian Broida. No registration is needed for this workshop.

Preparing Passover Ritual Foods: A Hands-on Workshop
April 18 at 2:30–3:30 pm in the Dining Service Kitchen

Join Dr. Marian Broida in preparing ritual foods for the Gustavus Passover Seder two evenings later. We'll be making two kinds of charoset--a mixture of fruit, nuts, grape juice and seasonings designed to resemble mortar--and bitter herbs, meant to evoke the suffering of the Israelite slaves in Egypt in the biblical story of the Exodus. You don't need to know a thing about Passover when you come--but you'll know a lot more when you leave! Space is limited; please email to reserve your spot.

13. What kind of food is served at a seder?

In the early part of the seder, participants eat ritual foods with special meanings (like parsley dipped in salt water, representing the tears of Israelite slaves). Later comes the festive meal. Typical foods include chicken soup with matzah balls, hard-boiled eggs (symbolizing springtime), chicken, vegetables, and dessert. Traditionally, Jews refrain from bread and other leavened products during the 8-day holiday of Passover, instead eating matzah (flat, unleavened bread made of only flour and water) or foods made with matzah meal (broken-up pieces of matzah). Many Jews also refrain from all grains and legumes (peas, beans, and related foods). Generally, food served at seders is delicious, despite these restrictions! During the seder it is also customary to drink 4 glasses of grape juice or wine.

Many Jews also “keep kosher” year-round. That is, they follow biblical and rabbinic dietary laws, avoiding pork and shellfish, and not serving meat and dairy products at the same meal. The food at this seder will not be technically kosher. However, it will meet the basic dietary requirements just mentioned. Since we will serve chicken (meat), no dairy products will be available.

14. What will we be singing at the seder?

Learn some of the melodies from YouTube.
(We’ll be singing these, plus a couple of others.)

Kaddesh Urkhatz (the “Table of Contents” song)
(song teaching itself begins around 1:30)

Avadim Hayinu (We were slaves)

Dayenu (this is the traditional version. We’ll do it in English—but the melody is the same):

Leshana Haba’a (Next year in Jerusalem)

Sha’alu Shalom (Peace for Jerusalem)

Kol ha-neshama (the last line in the book of Psalms, set as a round to a melody for Jubilate Deo by Michael Praetorius)

Date and time


Alumni Hall

Gustavus Adolphus College

800 West College Ave

Saint Peter, MN 56082

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Organizer Marian Broida

Organizer of Gustavus Passover Seder

Visiting Assistant Professor in Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN

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