Former Soviet Union natives celebrate Passover with a special seder at Crown Center


Bill Motchan, Special For The Jewish Light

A tri-lingual Crown Center Senior Living Passover event on April 21 combined food, wine, and memories. The occasion was a special seder for the Jewish Russian immigrants who call Crown Center home.

A joyous group of 20 residents gathered at the [email protected] Café to celebrate the holiday in three languages — English, Hebrew, and Russian. For good measure, there was also a bit of Yiddish thrown in during the Four Questions.

Thanks to translation assistance from Zhanna Bershteyn, the residents followed along with no problem. While some of them have lived in the United States for decades, their first language was Russian and some feel more comfortable speaking in their native tongue. A few words didn’t need translating—like the Eastern European name for horseradish. When asked if they knew khreyn (the Yiddish word for the bitter herb maror on the seder plate), the Crown Center seder guests in unison called out kreen (the Russian version).

Another word they recognized was matzah. Sarah Gimpelvich, speaking in Russian, shared that she remembered her family baking matzah when she was growing up. Another resident, Rema Korshunova, said her memories from her homeland included celebrating Passover and other Jewish holidays secretly.


Florence Schachter, director of resident and community services, said the annual Russian seder is a popular event on the Crown Center calendar because it brings together a group of Russian natives who now have the freedom to publicly celebrate Jewish holidays.

During the seder, Nikki Goldstein, Crown Center executive director, told the guests, “This is a wonderful tradition we started, and a way to share a piece of Pesach. For those of you who are new, we’re happy to welcome you to the Crown Center community!”