Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity hosts seder open to community in honor of Passover

By Josh Cropanzano || Staff Writer

On the eight holy days of Passover, Jews all across the world come together to celebrate the holiday in remembrance of their time in bondage in Egypt and, ultimately, liberation and departure to the Promised Land. For the first two days or first day of Passover, Jews celebrate through a ‘Seder,’ a ritual service and ceremonial dinner. At the Seder, many various ceremonies and practices are done in order to symbolize parts of Jewish history and culture. For example, matzah, an unleavened bread with a texture and taste similar to a cracker, is eaten instead of traditional bread in remembrance of how Jews leaving Egypt departed in such a hurry that their bread did not have time to rise.

It is within this holy tradition that Jewish brothers at Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity hosted their own Seder in honor of the Jewish holiday. Jewish brothers at Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, with help from Hillel, cooked, cleaned, set tables, memorized prayers, and prepared ceremonies so that all members of the fraternity and local community could come to participate in the Seder. This effort was championed by James Overstreet ‘21 and Stephen Wiederhorn ‘18. When asked why he hosted the event, Stephen said, “As a Jew, I want to share my culture with my fraternity brothers so that we can all come together to enjoy and celebrate this holiday together.” James Overstreet said that he was inspired by the hard work of his friends at Hillel and wanted to emulate their success.

Although many fraternity members were not Jewish themselves, they gladly participated in the many rituals associated with a seder. Attendees wore yamakas, ate matzah, and participated in the Jewish prayers which are traditionally recited during the ceremonies.

For the meal, a dish of beef brisket was served, cooked in the fraternity’s own kitchen in accordance with kosher practices. Matzah, matzo ball soup, various greens, and so on were also prepared and served. Phi Kappa Sigma had opened the event to all members of the community, Jewish or otherwise. Roughly forty guests came, packing the dining area to capacity. Luckily, more than enough food was prepared.

In an interview, the president (“Alpha”) of the fraternity, Grant Sundstrom, had this to say: “I am proud of my brothers for coming together to hold this event and glad that I could participate. Although I am not Jewish, I have a deep respect for the Jewish culture and religion.” Grant Sundstrom eagerly participated in the many recitations and ceremonies at the event, congratulating the brothers, helping cook, setting tables, and entertaining guests. Stephen was eager to thank Hillel for supporting the event, saying, “This event would not have been possible without Hillel. We are thankful for all the work they do and the help they have given us”, which was met with a round of applause. Seemingly every guest left satisfied and many personally thanked James and Stephen for their hard work. Plans to repeat this Seder next year have been put forth and it looks like a Seder will become an annual tradition for Phi Kappa Sigma.

Sophomore Josh Cropanzano is a Staff Writer. His email is jcropanz@fandm.edu.

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