BYU honors Jewish Passover with model Seder dinner

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Students and community members honored the Jewish Passover with unleavened bread, bitter herbs and traditional festivities at the BYU model Seder dinner.

The March 18 event was the first of three annual model Seder dinners hosted every spring with the exception of the past two years because of COVID-19. Jeffrey Chadwick, BYU Religious Education and Jerusalem Center professor, said he is excited to continue the tradition this year.

“This started out way back in the 1980s with Professor Victor Ludlow, who got his degree in Jewish Studies and wanted Latter-day Saints to come to know something about Judaism and the Passover, which is also a heritage of Christianity,” Chadwick said. “Jesus’ Last Supper was a Passover, and some of the greatest events in the New Testament happened at Passover.”

Chadwick said the Seder dinner is considered a simulation and not the actual ordinance, which is why it is held on days other than the actual day of Passover.

“We call it a model Seder meaning it’s a teaching event, not the actual Law of Moses ordinance. It’s meant to teach people about the Jewish traditions of Passover,” Chadwick said.

Throughout the dinner, Chadwick explained symbolic meanings behind prayers and the food, taught various Hebrew songs and chants and related the significance of the Passover to Christian beliefs.

“It’s important for our community at BYU and in the Church to understand and appreciate Judaism because much of our history, doctrine and teachings are based on Jewish customs and practices,” BYU public relations senior Brock Dowdle said.

Atlas Stanger, a BYU freshman studying manufacturing engineering, heard about the dinner in her Judaism and Islam class with Chadwick. She said she was intrigued because of her Jewish heritage and desire to connect with her ancestors more.

“In addition to having Christmas and Easter and the traditions we have as Latter-day Saints, it’s cool to experience a tradition that some of my ancestors experienced and to understand what that meant for them,” Stanger said.

There will be two more Seder dinners at BYU this spring on March 25 and April 9. More information can be found on BYU’s Religious Education website.

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