Passover: A student’s experience


“Passover is easily one of, if not the most, important holiday in the year,” Wilhelm Wiedow, graduate student in architecture, said.  

Wilhelm is an Ashkenazi Conservative Jew and is a member of the Manhattan Jewish Congregation. In observance of Jewish law, from the evening of April 5 to the evening of April 13, Wilhelm honored Passover.

Wilhelm laid out a timeline of the holiday for those who are not familiar. 

“Every year for seven days — eight if outside of Israel — we abstain from any leavened grains we call chametz and instead eat matzo to remind us of the quickness we had to leave Egypt,” Wilhelm said. 

Wilhelm explained that due to his location outside of Israel, he celebrates an extra day of Passover. He partakes in two Seder dinners: one in his private home and a second with the synagogue. The Seder dinner is a retelling of the first Passover through stories and food; because of this, the meal has a very strict structure.

“There’s an entire order of the dinner: blessing the wine; first hand wash; Karpas, [a] vegetable in salt water to remind us [of] the tears of slavery; breaking of the matzo; the public invitation and learning [about] the Seder; blessing hand wash; blessing of matzo; eating of matzo; eating bitter herbs; the sandwich; the meal; the desert matzo; blessing after meal; inviting Elijah the Prophet and Miriam; singing praise and the final prayer,” Wilhelm said.

Passover Seders are long, but through the process those who practice Judaism remember their ancestors’ time in Egypt and being saved by the hand of God from the clutches of slavery. 

“Passover is a very important holiday for me as it reminds me … [of] the bond we have as a nation and the beauty of the life we are able to live because of God.”

One of the steps in the Seder is the public invitation; those who observe Passover invite the public to partake in the rest of the holiday. 

“I would feel weird if someone who wasn’t Jewish celebrated [Passover],” Wilhelm said. “However, a major part of the Passover Seder is inviting everyone in the community … into the home to feed.”

Wilhelm said he encourages those from non-Jewish communities to participate in the Passover Seder if personally asked or if invited through public invitation.