Passover at Penn

Passover items

WHAT: This year, Passover begins on March 29 and runs through April 5. At Penn, Passover events have a home in Penn Hillel, the hub of Jewish life on campus. Penn Hillel is located in Steinhardt Hall at 215 S. 39th St.

COMING TOGETHER: Penn Hillel is hosting five different Seders on the first and second nights of Passover. This religious feast punctuates the beginning of the Passover observation through ritual and significant foods specially prepared for this occasion. First-night Seders begin at 7 p.m. on March 29 and will be held at Steinhardt Hall. Rabbi Mike Uram will lead a Conservative Seder, Rabbi Joel Nickerson will lead a Reform Seder and Barry Weiss, the Kosher supervisor at Hillel, will lead an Orthodox Seder. On the second night, there will be a large Conservative/Reform Seder, as well as an Orthodox one, at 8 p.m.

STUDENT-RUN SEDERS: There will also be student-led Seders in Steinhardt Hall on March 29 and 30. Uram, who is also associate director of Penn Hillel, says this year, the student group Moral Voices will be running a themed Seder that tackles the large moral question of human trafficking.

SEDERS-TO-GO: Uram says that Penn Hillel is helping students who want to host Seders in their dorms, College Houses or apartments, by providing the proper food, Seder plate and Haggadah, the Jewish religious text used during Passover. So far, Uram says Hillel has helped to plan about 30 Seders-to-go around campus.

KEEPING KOSHER: Even if people don’t keep kosher 365 days a year, many choose to do so during the Passover season. Students, faculty and staff can eat kosher meals at Penn Hillel—no reservations required. Lunches cost $16.25 and dinners run $19.85. According to Uram, Penn Dining serves about 500 kosher meals a day, more during Passover, and about 10 to 15 percent of those served are faculty and staff.

ANYONE IS WELCOME: Penn Hillel is also featuring plenty of information for those interested in, but unfamiliar with, the Passover observation. On the Penn Hillel website, there are links to “Passover notes,” which Uram calls the “CliffsNotes to the holiday of Passover,” as well as a guide to Passover cleaning and song sheets. Uram stresses anyone is welcome to participate in any of the Seders; in fact, many attendees on the first Seder night are curious, non-Jewish participants.

STAY CONNECTED: Uram says the mission of Penn Hillel is one of self-authorship. “College is a chance where you figure out where you are as an adult on your own terms,” he says. “[We] help students to develop an adult identity and engage in this process of self-authorship. ... We see our mission as totally connected to the University.”

MORE INFO: For more information on all Passover events at Penn Hillel, visit their website at

Originally published on March 25, 2010