As Passover begins on Friday evening, observant Jews around the world will celebrate the advent of the holiday in the traditional way — by sitting down to enjoy a seder, or ritual feast, with family members and close friends at home.
But not everyone has the luxury of being at home, which is one reason Chabad House at the Johns Hopkins University and other Jewish cultural centers and synagogues will be offering community seders — that is, seders for members of the public — this weekend.
“It’s most ideal to enjoy the seder with family, and it’s usually a home celebration, but we have many students who can’t attend one at home, and we have travelers, visitors and people who are here on business or for medical purposes,” says Rabbi Zev Gopin, spiritual leader of the Jewish education center near the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. “Our motto is ‘we’re you’re home away from home.’ We’re a family here, and you’re welcome to join our family.”
Gopin, who is to preside over the event — and co-host with his wife, Channi — for the 15th time on Friday, says it generally draws about 60 guests, though he figures the numbers may be smaller this year because it coincides with Easter.
All members of the public are welcome, he says. Suggested donations range from $45 for adult non-members to $25 for university students and children.
The Hopkins site is one of eight local Chabad centers offering the seders Friday. Several synagogues plan to hold seders on the second night of the holiday, following a tradition that is often observed throughout the Jewish diaspora other than in Israel.
Rick Gwynallen, director of special projects at B’nai Israel congregation in downtown Baltimore, says his and other synagogues hold a second night in part for those who have already enjoyed a first one at home and want to continue the celebration.
Many community seders in the area are sold out. Here are several with tickets remaining as of Wednesday. Call for fees and availability:
Ariel Jewish Center. Seder at Cheder Chabad, 5713B Park Heights Ave., 7 p.m. Phone (410) 764-5000.
Chabad of Downtown Baltimore: Young Jewish Professionals and Community Passover Seder, 8 p.m. 407 S. High St. (410) 605-0505.
Chabad of Johns Hopkins and Central Baltimore, 3701 N. Charles St., 7:45 p.m. Phone (410) 243-3700.
Chabad of Owings Mills, 11299 Owings Mills Blvd., Owings Mills, 7:30 p.m. (410) 356-5156.
Chabad Israeli Center of Baltimore, 7807 Seven Mile Lane, 7 p.m. Phone: (410) 242-2770.
B’nai Israel Congregation, 27 Lloyd St., 8 p.m. Phone (410) 732-5454.
Columbia Jewish Congregation, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, 6 p.m. Phone (410) 730-6044.