BYU community explores Jewish tradition through Passover meal

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Bitter herbs, unleavened bread and other kosher foods will intertwine with commentary on Jewish traditions during this Thursday at the BYU Passover Seder Services in the Wilkinson Student Center.

Hosted on campus for nearly 40 years, the BYU Passover Seder Services will be held on Thursday as well as April 7, 13 and 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in room 3228 of the WSC. Tickets are $25 for the public and $17 for BYU students, faculty and staff and can be purchased in room 271 of the Joseph Smith Building.

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A traditional Passover plate with sections for different traditional elements.
Professor Jeffrey Chadwick, a faculty member of BYU Religious Education and a specialist in Jewish Studies, will host the Seder this year. Chadwick said the event includes explanations of traditions that originated in the Old Testament. The Passover is celebrated in remembrance of the Lord delivering His people out of Egyptian captivity. Chadwick said the event explores Jewish symbolism and includes parallels with the LDS faith.

“We hope participants will gain an appreciation for the Jewish practice of the Passover to the extent that we can authenticate and replicate it in the sense of our own Israeli heritage,” Chadwick said.

Victor Ludlow, emeritus professor of ancient scripture, has hosted these services for the last 38 years, and said he started this tradition to increase the level of understanding his students had of the Old Testament. Ludlow said the activities expose novices and experts to new perspectives of the Passover to create a memorable experience.

“When you consider the 3.5 hours of an intense learning experience and a full course meal, it’s something you will remember a lot longer than an average night out,” Ludlow said.

Peter Leverkus, a senior majoring in anthropology, said this is a chance for students to learn more about Judaism and its cultural significance. Leverkus has celebrated the Passover as part of his Jewish heritage with his family and friends at home and at BYU.

“From the Christian aspect, I think it’s a great experience and everybody should have the opportunity to celebrate it because it helps us understand the significance of Christ’s atonement and how people can prepare for His coming,” Leverkus said.

Rachel Sleight, a senior from Richland, Wash., majoring in linguistics, studies Hebrew at BYU. Sleight said her favorite Passover was with about 50 people at her Hebrew professor’s home. Despite cramped conditions, it was a “joyous occasion” where they commemorated the miracles of God.

“Passover is a reminder of God’s kindness to the Jews in delivering them from bondage,” Sleight said. “LDS members can see the same thing in their lives and be grateful for what God has done for us in the past and what He continues to do for us.”

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