Jackie Klein tells of the challenges and delights of organising a Seder for 30 students.
This Pesach over thirty students gathered at a home in central London during the second night to experience a Seder led and coordinated by myself and six other students. Without a doubt, it was one Seder that I will not forget for a long time.
When the leader of The Shabbat Project approached me a couple of months ago, to help out with the Seder, I was excited to be considered, but slightly worried about the time commitment that would be involved in planning such a large event.
I eventually agreed, and we pulled in a few more awesome people to help out as well. A couple of Skype conversations and many Facebook group messages later, we were ready and roaring to go.
The day before Pesach was spent hunting through North London in the later hours of the afternoon, to find a place to kosher our new big pots, and then a joyful evening of food prepping at the home of one the other planner.
Next thing we know it was the second day of Pesach and we were coordinating chair placement and setting of the table, along with last minute hagaddah prep. Miraculously we were able to figure out the arrangement of thirty or so people, however, we were not able to guarantee access to the loo! Surprisingly at 8:30 on the dot, our guests started to arrive and easily made themselves at home, chatting away.
It was soon clear that we had a very international crowd, with representation, from Germany, France, America and Israel.
After we all made it upstairs, preformed some epic seat aerobics, the evening officially began. It had all the makings of a lovely Seder with lots of joyous singing, contemplative discussion, as well as new traditions for many of us Americans, specifically experiencing the dipping of the egg in salt water!
All the food was cooked and prepared by our host, Miriam who refused to have it catered. It looked and tasted amazing.
While some left after the meal, the rest of us stayed to clean up and continue the Seder together. We sung and discussed until the wee hours of the morning, until we finally said good night!
Like any event, there were a couple of snags that could be planned better, but at the end of the evening we left with smiles on our face and perhaps a new friend, or tradition to bring home to our family next year during the first night.
For myself the best part of the evening was the fact that it was a peer planned and conducted Seder. We all put a lot of hard work into the planning, and there was something incredibly special about seeing it come together.
A Seder occurs as a family affair. Many of the students attending our Seder, were not with family or were studying away from this year. I do not think I would be stretching the truth if I said that for that night, we created our own family.