‘Mini-Seder’ at Easthampton Community Center on Tuesday 

Published: 4/18/2017 12:38:58 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Every year for the past decade, the Easthampton Community Center has hosted an Easter egg hunt. The center’s executive director, Robin Bialecki, said this year there were 19,000 eggs, 7,000 pounds of candy and 250 prize tickets.

The event brings hundreds, Bialecki said, and the field of Easter eggs was cleared in five minutes.

But this year, the center will be celebrating Passover Seder for the first time and Bialecki said she has no idea how many people to expect.

Passover commemorates Exodus, the story of how Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt. At Seder, a plate is made with foods that symbolize the times of slavery. The week of Passover takes place on the 14th night of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, which falls between April and the end of March.

On Tuesday from 5-6 p.m., the ECC will host a mini-Seder where the community can learn about the holiday and taste the foods on the Seder plate. The event is free and open to the public. 

The event was sparked after a Facebook comment on the “Easthampton 01027 The Good News Page” questioning why the center celebrates Easter and not Passover.

When she saw the comment, Bialecki said she thought, “Sure. Let’s give it a try.”

The administrator of the page, Patrick Brough, said he thought the person was being sarcastic and inappropriate, so Brough deleted the comment. Brough said the person who made the comment does not live in the state and will probably not be coming to the event.

“I think it is awesome that Robin turned this person’s sarcastic remark into a great event,” Brough said.

ECC volunteer Joan Kurtz, who has a masters degree in Hebrew education, drew from her seven years spent teaching fifth graders at the Jewish Secular School in Long Island as she readied Tuesday’s lesson plan.

At Tuesday’s event, Kurtz said participants will go over what is on the plate and the story behind each one.

“All these symbols have to do when we were slaves and our hopes for freedom,” Kurtz said.

Each piece of food has various meanings, Kurtz said. In general, a hard boiled egg stands for rebirth after Egypt; a bitter herb such as horseradish represents the bitter times suffered through slavery; parsley is a sign of new life and spring; bone a reminder of sacrifice, and charoset which is a mix of apples cinnamon, nuts and wine symbolizes the mortar that the Jews had to mix to make bricks.

In place of the traditional wine, grape juice will be served. Since Tuesday’s event will be a mini-seder, a large meal will not follow the seder plate.

“We’re hoping for a large enough crowd so we can educate people as to who we are and what we do,” Kurtz said. “If it is successful, we will probably have it every year.”

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.

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