30 years of celebrating Passover

Five Towns Kiwanis to hold model Seder, April 4


For 30 years, the Kiwanis Club of the Five Towns has brought club members, family and friends together for a model Seder, to celebrate and deepen their understanding of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The model Seders began in 1989 at Woodro Kosher Restaurant & Caterers in Hewlett, moved to Goldie’s Restaurant, an Italian eatery in Valley Stream, and then moved back to Woodro’s after Goldie’s closed in 2014. On April 4, the Kiwanis club will mark the 30th anniversary of its first model Seder at Woodro’s.

“Then we had every [religious] denomination in the club,” Rick Levine, a Kiwanis member for nearly 31 years, recalled, referring to the inaugural model Seder. “We had Italian Night, St. Patrick’s Day and a Christmas/Hanukkah holiday party. The idea came from Vince Geraci.”

“The way it came about is, I had been to several Seders, and I said to the Jewish members, why can’t we have a Seder?” Geraci said. “We have a nice crowd, 50 to 60 people, kids come. It’s a nice gathering, and you learn what’s going on in someone else’s religion.”

Passover — April 19 to 27 this year — is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. The Passover story is recounted in a small book known as the Haggadah, which is used to guide a Seder. In the story, God visits 10 plagues on Egypt, including the most infamous one, killing the first-born sons of all Egyptians. According to the traditional story, the Hebrews left Egypt so quickly that there was no time to allow bread to rise, so they made what is called unleavened bread, or matzo.

Levine said that a program was set up 30 years ago that is usually followed at every model Seder. A rabbi explains the traditional meaning of the foods on the Seder plate. For the past several years and for this one as well, Rabbi Steven Graber, of Temple Hillel in North Woodmere, is the presenter.

Dave Vines, now in his third presidency of the Kiwanis Club of the Five Towns, said he brings his wife and children every year, and he recalled that at the 2010 Seder, at the original Woodro’s in the Peninsula Shopping Center, Graber “tailored the Passover story to what Italians and Italian Jews went through in World War II.”

“The model Seder gives people of all different religions and denomination an opportunity to share, and allows members to meet and greet each other in the general spirit of Kiwanis,” said Vines, a member for 17 years. “Local people and businesses share ideas, and encourage that much more opportunity to really work together and to continue to grow.”

To attend the model Seder, call Levine at (516) 319-2506; Vines, at 383-4741; Sean Lally, at 286-3007; or Anthony Campanile, at 808-3105. Woodro’s is at 1441 Broadway in Hewlett.