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Marking Jewish Exodus from Egypt

Second annual Seder Summit entertains and educates.

Rabbi Nissan Antine offers practical advice and innovative ideas on how to make the Seder come alive.

Rabbi Nissan Antine offers practical advice and innovative ideas on how to make the Seder come alive.

Male bonding over ribs, beer and scotch were front and center Sunday, March 18 at Beth Sholom synagogue.

Members and their friends in the greater D.C. Jewish community gathered during the second annual Seder Summit, an event that featured a twist on lessons related to Passover.

“The Seder isn’t just dinner, it’s a house holiday. When preparing the Seder think of everyone involved, it must speak to all levels.”

Rabbi Nissan Antine

Passover, which falls on April 6 this year, marks the time of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. A reliving of the event during the Seder meal is a cornerstone of the holiday, yet creating a connection to the past requires more than simply reading from a text.

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Photo courtesy of Geoff Chesman

David Glassman, Mark Jacobson and Corey Feldman sample scotch during the second annual Seder Summit.

“We decided to have an event for guys to impart ways that make the Seder more meaningful,” said Mark Eidelman, event organizer and senior volunteer at Beth Sholom. “It’s incredible the sense of community the event has created, people are loving it and coming out of the woodwork to take part.”

The Seder Summit has become so popular following last year’s success that organizers were unable to accommodate all requests due to space restrictions. Nearly 265 guests took part in the summit, with participants representing the spectrum of Judaism, from orthodox to reform to those who never attend synagogue.

“It’s definitely a guys night out, it’s a way to bond around spirituality and camaraderie with the broader community in ways we might not otherwise have a chance,” said Rabbi Nissan Antine, who has served at Beth Sholom for the past five years.

Lessons from the summit included innovative ways to present the Seder, one of the most observed rituals in the Jewish faith. The Seder includes symbolic foods such as horseradish, which instills a physical sense of bitterness, followed by the relief of Matza, the bread of freedom.

“The Seder isn’t just dinner, it’s a house holiday. When preparing the Seder think of everyone involved, it must speak to all levels,” said Antine. “It’s reliving history, in order to really understand jubilation you must know the depths of despair. When the Seder is complete it feels like you have just participated in the exodus from Egypt.”