By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Ian Ross, a 20-year-old Jewish student at St. Ambrose University, is hosting a Passover Seder there on March 24 to celebrate his faith with the university community.
Largely through word of mouth, his outgoing personality and active involvement at St. Ambrose, he has most of the 120 reservations filled for the Seder to be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Rogalski Center on campus.
Rabbi Henry Karp of Temple Emanuel in Davenport, an adjunct instructor at St. Ambrose, will lead the Seder, a meal-and-prayer service celebrated on the eve of the first day of Passover (and on the eve of the second day as well by Orthodox Jews outside of Israel).
However, this Seder is being celebrated as part of the university’s Multicultural Week festivities and not on the actual Passover starting date of April 9. And to keep costs down, chicken is being substituted for lamb.
An accounting and finance major involved in several campus organizations, Ross approached St. Ambrose’s president, Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, with his proposal. “I’d rather run a Jewish event by her first,” he said.
“She was excited about it and instantly referred me to someone who could help me out a great deal, Father Chuck Adam (the university’s chaplain of students),” Ross added.
Fr. Adam is enthusiastic about the event. St. Ambrose has hosted Seders in the past, but not on this scale and not one led by a rabbi and sponsored by a Jewish student, he said.
“To have a student who is Jewish want to put on a Seder for others to understand the Jewish faith makes it that much more unique and a fuller experience.”
Response has been enthusiastic in part because people at the university have a relationship with Ross and respect his appreciation and enthusiasm for his faith, Fr. Adam said.
“We suggested having the Seder during Multicultural Week,” he added. “It fits in with the annual event.”
Invitations were limited to 120 because “we wanted an intimate enough dinner so we could allow for instruction and not have it be in an assembly hall atmosphere.”
Ross said he is one of a few Jewish students at the school that he is aware of. “I figured that I enjoyed my religion. I find it interesting and educational, especially since it is based off the Torah, (the first five books of the Old Testament.) I decided the Passover is a very social holiday that everyone can celebrate because it’s applicable to a large part of the world because Jesus was also Jewish.”
Sodexo at St. Ambrose University Catering Services is catering the meal featuring chicken, potatoes, matzah soup, salad and sponge cake for dessert. Each table also will have a Seder plate, containing the symbolic foods of Passover: the roasted egg, parsley, celery, potato, roasted bone, chopped apples and nuts and bitter herbs.
Students pay for the meal with their meal plan, while other guests will pay $5 per person.
Ross hopes that in addition to having an enjoyable time and great food, guests will leave the Seder with “a better view of the Jewish culture after learning about one of the primary events, the Exodus.”
Fr. Adam appreciates the attitude Ross has about his faith. “He’s saying, ‘this is my faith; I’m proud of it and I want to share it.’ We can all learn from that.”
Sponsors of the event are Ambrosians for Peace and Justice, Campus Ministry, Student Government Associa-tion and Residence Life.