This year, Temple University Hillel, the foundation for Jewish students on campus, is sponsoring eight days of kosher meals for students and community members observing Passover.
Every spring, Jews around the world celebrate the story of the Exodus, the Israelites’ escape from slavery under Pharaoh’s rule in Egypt. A commonly practiced tradition in the eight-day celebration is a complete change in diet. The rule of thumb: if it’s leavened (like bread or cake), it shouldn’t be eaten.
Before the last Passover, Jewish students observing the holiday on campus had very few dining options.
“We were sick and tired of being limited to a box of matzah,” said senior Ross Wolman.
Wolman, who has held an array of leadership positions, came up with the Passover meal idea with junior Esther Massey last year.
“We wanted to have an opportunity for students who keep kosher to have a good kosher home-cooked meal,” Wolman said.
Temple University Dining Service’s executive chef Brian Austin donates a week of his time to prepare lunch and dinner at the Hillel House while bouncing back to the J & H Cafeteria to make sure it continues to operate smoothly.
Austin is even preparing the two traditional Seders (a service and meal that recalls the flight from Egypt) on Wednesday and Thursday night.
Austin said that his favorite part of cooking for Passover is the creativeness required making savory entrees, like matzah lasagna. To Austin, who is not Jewish, the Passover meals are “recognizing how another culture gathers around food as a centerpiece for social activity and religious value.”
The first meal will be served on Wednesday, March 27. Lunch and dinner will be served every day (including weekends) throughout the holiday, which runs from sundown on Wednesday through sundown on Thursday, April 4.
Meals can be paid for with meal plans or by cash, and will cost around $5.50 per meal. This year’s menu will include favorites like matzah pizza, stir-fry, matzah pancakes, and “crazy desserts,” among many other creative dishes. Vegetarian options will be available at all meals.
Ken Krivitzky, program director at Hillel, said the meals last year drew around 20 people for each lunch and close to 30 for each dinner. Approximately 80 different community members attended at least one meal or more.
This Passover, Hillel and Austin are looking to teach students how to prepare the holiday delicacies themselves. Austin is a certified Culinary Foundation trainer.
“I like the interaction and the help,” Austin said. “I also like learning the tradition while teaching culinary skills.”
“The Passover meals are an incredible time for students and a great opportunity for Jews to come together as a community,” Krivitzky said. “It shows that there is a large and vibrant Jewish community on campus with an incredible potential for growth.”
For more information or to sign up for a meal (or more) call 215-769-1174 or to go www.multicampushillel.org/passover.html.
Rachel Maisler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org