Passover is popular among both Jews and many others, who love the exotic foods, wine and discussion of the Haggadah, a sort of flexible guide book for the evening. While celebrants have been perfecting Passover for nearly two millennia, a group of local kids (and few adult cooks) from Montclair’s Bnai Keshet synagogue added a whole new wrinkle to celebrating the “Festival of Freedom”.
Working with Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless (MESH), Bnai Keshet ushered in the first night of Passover by hosting over 30 MESH guests with a multi-course Seder meal, complete with four cups of grape juice, flowerless desserts, limitless matzah and questions all hosted and served by the synagogue’s youth and some of their friends and parents.
“Wow, these guys actually like gefilte fish more than anyone in my family does!” commented one ten year-old after serving the meals second course.
After the MESH Seder, volunteers and others held a communal “post-Seder Seder”, discussing a variety of sources – religious and secular – about social action, hunger alleviation, the responsibility of freedom and why comic Lewis Black is such a good spokesman for the “bitter herbs”.
“Passover’s guiding text, the Haggadah, calls for “All that are hungry to come eat, all that are needy to join us in celebrating Passover”, said one of the parents helping cook the meal. “Our kids are well aware of that call, and pretty much insisted we do this”. Another host, Agnes Moskot, down form Toronto to visit her grandchildren , said “I’ve cooked a lot of matzah balls in my life, but never so many in one night!”
“It was a cool night” added Jonah Skeen, one of the young servers. “The whole night was kind of a melting pot of all the religions, people and learning styles of Montclair”.