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« Spring 2014, Issue II | Main | Schiermonnikoog »

04/24/2014

Passover in Amsterdam

Becca Diamond
When deciding to study abroad in the spring, my biggest worry was about Passover. Passover is a Jewish holiday where families have a big dinner called a seder and we recount the story of how Moses led the Israelites out of slavery. Every year, I go with my parents and brother to my grandparents’ house where my mom leads the seder. At first, I was sad about missing this family tradition, but I saw the opportunity to celebrate my favorite holiday in a new way. 

I posted in our program’s Facebook group asking to see if anyone wanted to help create our own seder, and plenty of people were excited about the idea. My friend Aron organized who would bring the vegetables and the matzah ball soup and the matzah and the charoset. I created a haggadah (the prayerbook used at the seder) and included a quote by Anne Frank, who would have held a seder at this time many years earlier, along with the thousands of other Jews who used to call Amsterdam their home. 

Twelve people attended our seder, including a few guests. About half of the people were not Jewish, and some had never attended a seder before. Everyone was really interested in learning about the different rituals and symbols used in Passover, and how the traditions differ at every seder. Another Jewish person at the seder, Ariella, shared some of the Sephardic traditions that her family does at their seder. 

During dinner, everyone talked about how their relationship with religion has evolved as they have grown, especially now that we are in Amsterdam and we now have to decide for ourselves what place religion and family tradition plays in our lives. It was amazing to hear about faiths other than my own, in addition to sharing my own customs with the amazing community we created here in Amsterdam. 

A few days later, I Skyped with my family to hear about how the traditional family seder went at home, and to tell them about the amazing things I learned from creating a new seder with a mix of diverse traditions and faiths.

Becca Diamond
Muhlenberg College

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