The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

As passover draws to an end, Jewish students reflect on the past, look at today

Johanna Pierach
TRADITION. Taher lunch staff serve matzo crackers for those practicing passover. The crackers are an integral part of the festival, as chametz, or leavened bread, is forbidden.

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a festival that holds great significance in Judaism. Traditionally observed for eight days, the lunar-based Hebrew calendar sets the days of Passover. The holiday began sundown on

Tuesday and will last until the evening of Apr. 30.

In the Torah, Passover starts on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, commemorating the Biblical story of Exodus in which God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

“Passover is the celebration of the Jewish people’s successful escape from their enslavement in Egypt,” rising Mishpacha leader Avital Coleman said.

Mishpacha is the affinity group for Jewish-identifying students. “When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, Moses told the Pharaoh to let his people go, but the Pharaoh denied,” she said.

As the story goes, God unleashed ten plagues on the Egyptians. The Israelites, however, were “passed over” from the plague, as they marked the door frames of their homes with lamb’s blood.

The celebration of Passover centers around the retelling of this story, which can vary between how individuals and their families choose to observe the holiday. Often, families and communities partake in a ritual feast called a seder the first two nights.

“I often go to one or two seders during the first couple of nights of Passover with my family, extended family, family friends and their extended family. The seder night is centered around a Haggadah which has prayers, and readings that celebrate the past and observe current issues,” Coleman said.

Mishpacha leader David Kopilenko celebrates Passover with his extended family.

“We don’t have any unusual traditions but my grandpa likes to tell a story about how our family immigrated from the Soviet Union,” he said.

We don’t have any unusual traditions but my grandpa likes to tell a story about how our family immigrated from the Soviet Union.

— David Kopilenko

Coleman noted that other Passover customs may include leaving out wine for Elijah, eating Jewish foods, and having a symbolic plate with a roasted shank bone, an egg, bitter herbs, and haroset.

Those celebrating may also remove all leavened food products, or chametz, from their home before Passover to abstain from them throughout the holiday. Matzo is traditionally substituted because, according to one tradition, there was no time for the bread to rise as the Hebrews fled Egypt.

Last Monday, Mishpacha announced Passover, revealing an afikomen hidden in the school. Families often hide an afikomen, a broken piece of matzah, to commence a seder. Daily, Mishpacha has revealed a clue in the student newsletter as part of the search process. Matzah was available in the cafeteria last week for those observing Passover.

Still, Coleman said that “the lack of kosher-for-Passover food options” has made it challenging to observe the holiday in a school setting easily. “It is especially difficult this year, as the menu was set earlier than expected,” she said.

Kopilenko agreed.

“It’s hard to observe Passover in school,” he said. “The lunch schedule has barely accommodated us, and pretty much all lunches I am not able to eat other than stuff at the salad bar.”

He noted that senior privileges helped broaden his options, but those are only available to some.

Coleman revealed that Mishpacha had made the Passover announcement mainly to ensure that the community took notice.

“I think that it is important to educate the SPA community on Jewish holidays because we have the privilege of such a religiously diverse school community that we should all learn and respect each other,”

Coleman said, noting that “with the rising antisemitism in the US,” it is essential to “…teach others about the goodness of the Jewish people to limit hate and stop anti-Semitic propaganda.”

Kopilenko believes that, in general, “it is important for people to learn about other cultures and traditions.”
Additionally, because of dietary restrictions during Passover, “… it’s important for others to know why their Jewish classmates and friends may not be eating certain foods or not going to lunch,” he said.

As Passover comes to an end, Jewish American Heritage Month will begin in the month of May.

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About the Contributor
Johanna Pierach
Johanna Pierach, In Depth Editor
My name is Johanna Pierach (she/her). I’m the In Depth Editor for The Rubicon. At school, I’m involved in the Junior Class Leadership Council, HerSpace, IRIS, and KnitWits. I also compete for the Cross Country, Nordic, and Track teams. I love to thrift and go to concerts. I can be reached at [email protected].

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