Pesach in Decatur


Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

The Passover seder is one of my favorite rituals of the year. I look forward to studying anew the Hagadah. Each year I search for new meanings to our ancient story and the reasons behind what we do. I gather new questions to be discussed during the meal in order to engage one another in exciting intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

For the last five years I have traveled to Decatur with my family for the second night of seder. For this community a table set for 40 is a wonderful turn out. Rather than hiring a caterer ,they do their own cooking. They have the best matza ball soup I have ever tasted!

Only a few children usually attend so the tradition has become that any kids who have celebrated a Bar or Bat Mitzvah hide the affikomen for the younger ones. They anxiously await the time when they run off to play the “hot/cold” game in search for the evidence that will bring them silver coins.

There are a few individuals who travel back to Decatur just to celebrate seder in a familiar surrounding. For others new to town, this is a way of welcoming them to the Jewish community. The first part of the seder lasts about 50 minutes. After way too much food, we conclude in 15 to 20 minutes. They are good sports about doing as much as possible to fulfill this ancient tradition.

Seder in Decatur has been my way of celebrating with family. Until Shavuot!