Celebrating Community and Tradition: Five Towns Kiwanis Club Hosts 34th Annual Passover Seder


Kosher wine was flowing and matzo ball soup was bubbling at the Five Towns Kiwanis Club 34th annual Rick Levine Model Passover Seder at Lido Kosher Deli in Long Beach on April 11, 11 days before the eight-day Jewish holiday gets under way.

Members of all faiths and backgrounds joined together to celebrate Passover. The holiday commemorates the exodus of the Israelites in ancient Egypt. The holiday is observed by eating matzah (unleavened bread) as the Jews left without having time for their bread to rise.

Seder, which means order in Hebrew, includes 14 steps and it could last all night. There are Seders held on the first two nights of the holiday, which include the Seder plate, four cups of wine, a large meal and lots of singing. In Hebrew, it is known as Pesach which means “to pass-over,” because God passed over the Jewish homes during the last of the 10 plagues: the slaying of the first born as lamb’s blood was placed on their doorposts.

Rabbi Steven Graber, of Temple Hillel, kicked off the model Seder.

“I’m so proud to be here or wherever you are every year and follow you around and be apart of what you do for Passover,” Graber said.

He then explained in depth the Passover Seder plate and what the items on it represent and how the holiday came to be.

“The maror reminds us of the bitterness of slavery, charoset reminds us of the mortar and the bricks that we used to build the cities of Egypt, a green vegetable reminds us of the spring time, the egg is a symbol of the sacrifices of our ancestors and the lamb shank reminds us of the sacrifices our people made,” Graber said.

Matzah is a big part of Passover and one the most famous symbols of the holiday. It is made of flour and water, and bakes quickly due to the tiny holes in it. It is also known as the bread of affliction.

Once the soup was served, the conversation and drinks flowed. There was laughter, stories, and all around enjoyment as Five Towns Kiwanis Club members shared old stories.

“We enjoy doing it and that’s what Kiwanis is all about, everybody getting together and meeting and camaraderie,” Kiwanis President Bill Bressant said.

This is first year that the model Seder is named after Rick Levine, who currently serves as Deputy Lt. Governor. He made the trek from Florida to surprise his friends at the Seder and visit with those he hasn’t seen in months.

“It means the world because we started with an Italian club, and we brought in a couple of Jewish guys and eventually after having Christmas, St. Paddy’s day and ever other religion I said we should have a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Seder,” Levine said.

Even after 34 years, the model Seder evolves and grows into something bigger and better. More members than ever attended this year.

“You can’t make old friends, we know everybody’s wives and kids, it’s kind of cool, I like it,” Levine added.

One could feel the sense of community and friendship was strong and the smiles never left anyone’s face all night.

“Tzedakah is doing the righteous thing and that’s what Kiwanis is all about,” Graber said.