New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

How students at NYU find community during Passover

Considered one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year, Passover can seem daunting for students celebrating away from home.
Matt Petres
The Bronfman Center for Jewish Life on 7 E. 10th St. (Matt Petres for WSN)

Passover, which takes place from April 22 to April 30 this year, is a deeply important holiday in the Jewish faith as it remembers the Hebrew people’s liberation from slavery in Egypt. This eight-day-long celebration involves many traditions and is recognized most for Seder, a meal at the beginning of the holiday marked by a feast and readings of the Haggadah — a text that tells the story of Passover and that guides readers through the steps of the Seder.

Like many holidays, Passover is often celebrated with family, friends and local religious communities. For Jewish students at NYU, celebrating the holiday away from home can be challenging. CAS first-year Joelle Kirsch said Passover has always been a time of important connection.

“[Passover] is the only time of the year where I get to see my entire dad’s side of the family all together,” Kirsch said. “It’s really amazing.”

Brooke D’Addio, a junior at Steinhardt, also holds the holiday close to their heart. D’Addio spoke to the struggles of celebrating Jewish holidays as a college student in an environment so different from home.

“I’ve struggled with celebrating Jewish holidays in the past, only because they are so community-based,” D’Addio said. “It feels a little wrong to suddenly have to transfer over to an NYU-like kind of setting.” 

Though D’Addio grapples with the difference in environment, the hardest part for Krisch is being away from family. Krisch said it’s going to be “really difficult emotionally” to see pictures of her family together. She is celebrating her first Passover away from family, and noted the difficulties she has faced with this transition. Krisch joked about the challenge to keep kosher when not in a household with kosher foods, saying she’d be “eating salads and matzah with cream cheese everyday.” 

To find a religious community on campus, many Jewish students turn to NYU’s Bronfman Center, specifically their hub of Jewish life on campus, NYU Hillel. A self-proclaimed “Jewish home for all of NYU,” the center has no shortage of events and educational opportunities for students, 

Steinhardt senior Maggie Sonenshine, who is vice president of Hillel’s Student Executive Board, believes Hillel is the ideal place to find a Jewish community on campus. 

There’s no wrong time to become a part of the Hillel community, whether it’s your first semester or your last,” Sonenshine said. 

Among Bronfman’s many events, it will be hosting three different Seder meals on April 22 and 23. Rabbi Emily Aronson, one of NYU’s campus rabbis at Hillel, spoke with WSN about the importance of Seder. 

“All at once, the Seder holds the seriousness of the Jewish story and modern challenges, immense joy and celebration of Jewish life today, and space to imagine what we hope for the future,” Rabbi Aronson said. “Our Seders and Passover programs, like everything we do at Hillel, are open to all students — students from all Jewish backgrounds, interfaith families, other faith traditions or no faith tradition.” 

No matter how students choose to celebrate, the hope is that all Jewish students, religious or not, can find a community where they can learn, practice faith and build meaningful relationships. Happy Passover!

Contact Annie Emans at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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  • K

    Kim BlueApr 24, 2024 at 12:46 am

    Hi Annie! I’ve enjoyed reading your articles. Especially this one on Passover! You are a talented writer. Keep doing what you love! I miss seeing you, Gracie, Hope and your Momma! Love you!
    Kim ♥️