While children played in the aisles, students shared familial customs with each other and kitchen staff prepared the Kosher meal, female attendees lit candles as Rabbi Gorelick began Chabadâ€™s seventh annual Passover Seder.
With all the singing, eating and drinking incorporated into the ceremony, both Jews and Gentiles alike enjoyed the Seder.
â€œThereâ€™s good food, singing and merriment and youâ€™re basically thrust four glasses of wine, so thereâ€™s really no downside,â€ said Rob Meyer, a mechanical engineering and physics major.
Even though Passover is an important religious ceremony in Jewish tradition, many in attendance were not Jews. The dinner is an opportunity for many Jewish students to bring friends and introduce them to their religious customs.
â€œMy friends and I come every year,â€ Gabby Yuffa, a sophomore psychology and social work major, said. â€œItâ€™s something we look forward to.â€
Throughout the night, there are fun, light moments, but the Seder is laden with tradition.
â€œI love it when the children ask the four questions,â€ Gorelick said. â€œThe Seder is about education and asking questions. Itâ€™s focused on the children and the child in each of us.â€
Many students in attendance remembered growing up and having Seders at home as kids.
â€œItâ€™s nice to celebrate Passover like I do when Iâ€™m home, and since I canâ€™t go home, itâ€™s nice to be able to do it here,â€ Sam Shine, a junior communications major from New York, said.
â€œItâ€™s a lot of fun, a lot of meaning, a lot of tradition,â€ Gorelick said. â€œEven non-Jews relate to it on a cultural level. Itâ€™s not very prayer-oriented. Itâ€™s a time for family to get together.â€
As students and community members gathered in the Lory Student Center Friday night, a makeshift family was created, and together they remembered their ancestorâ€™s struggle for freedom and acknowledged the restrictions that still exist in modern society.
Gorelick explained that while Passover is a celebration of the Israelitesâ€™ freedom from Egypt, it is also an observance of their continued struggle for liberation.
â€œPassover is a time of liberation,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a time of personal freedom when we can focus on how we can get past our personal inhibitions and our own challenges.â€
For many Jews, Passover is an annual reminder of their ancestorâ€™s struggle for freedom and a time to acknowledge that there is still a long journey toward freedom for all.
â€œIf youâ€™re Jewish and donâ€™t have anywhere to go for Passover, itâ€™s a nice place to come,â€ Shine said.
Max Mattisson, a sophomore majoring in anthropology and range land ecology got involved with Chabad after taking a class on traditional Judaism, taught by Gorelick.
â€œI was a little skeptical at first because of his orthodox appearance, but heâ€™s a good man and heâ€™s really helped me get involved in the Jewish community,â€ Mattisson said.
Collegian writer Kate Simmons can be reached at email@example.com.