To the Jewish community, wine is more than a spirit.
In the celebration of Seder, a remembrance of the Israelitesâ€™ exodus from Egypt honored during Passover, wine symbolizes freedom and wisdom, loosening tongues to allow deep thought to flow forth.
And about 150 celebrants, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, adhered to this idea as they gathered in the Lory Student Centerâ€™s Grey Rock Room Monday night.
â€œThere are myths that we actually take the blood of unbaptized Christian children and drink it for Seder,â€ said sophomore biochemistry major Josh Fainsod, raising his wine glass. â€œSo, if youâ€™re unbaptized, watch out.â€
By the time the second cups of wine were poured, affairs livened into a Fort Collins-worthy hooplah, with singing, dÃ©cor and circumstance.
â€œIf itâ€™s not fun, itâ€™s not Judaism,â€ said Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center at CSU.
Seder means order, suggesting the order of the ceremonial 15 steps of the dinner.
In the ballroom, Seder Plate sat in the middle of each of the tables holding a hardboiled egg, a chicken neck, a raw onion, a leaf of romaine lettuce, a fruit paste and horseradish for â€œbitter herbs,â€ to represent the bitterness and suffering that the Jewish slaves underwent in Egypt.
According to Seder ritual, four cups of wine are drunk throughout the meal. These cups are filled until overflowing to signify abundance, and are then downed in one gulp.
â€œThe secret of Seder,â€ Gorelik said, â€œis to find rhythm in life.â€
Ritual prayers were sung in Hebrew and then recited in English, preceding each step of the meal.
â€œThe Hebrew word for Egypt translates to limitations,â€ Gorelik said. â€œLeaving Egypt in the Exodus is leaving limitations.â€
The horseradish was spread on romaine lettuce leaves and eaten because, as Gorelik explained, â€œIn order to feel free, one needs to remember the bitter times.â€
â€œThis stuff will clear your sinuses,â€ said sophomore mechanical engineering major Michael Lichtbach, social director of Chabad. Lichtbach joined in on a horseradish-eating contest, where he won, eating four spoonfuls.
At the end of the feast, a silver chalice was poured for the Prophet Elijah, the harbinger of the Messiah, and celebrants sang as an invitation for him in the hopes that he will return.
Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.