In the wake of Iran’s attack on Israel, the Technion’s JLIC community found themselves grappling with emotions ranging from fear to uncertainty. It was April 14, 2024, a night marked not only by the specter of impending finals but also by the echoes of a recent conflict. Despite the weight of these circumstances, Rabbi Evan and Tova Levine, alongside a dedicated group of students, orchestrated an event that would become a beacon of light in the darkness: a chocolate seder.

The decision to host such an event amid the turmoil was not without its risks. With finals looming and tensions running high, the idea of taking a break to indulge in chocolate treats might have seemed frivolous to some. However, it was precisely this seemingly small act of defiance against despair that would prove to be transformative for the JLIC Technion’s students.

Technion JLIC Students enjoying the Chocolate Seder

Over 20 individuals, representing diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, gathered in a show of solidarity. For many, this would be their first encounter with the concept of a chocolate seder, a tradition unfamiliar to those hailing from outside North America. Yet, as they sat together, each bite of chocolate became a symbol of resilience, a testament to the human spirit’s ability to find joy amidst adversity.

The seder plate, typically adorned with traditional symbols of the Passover story, took on a deliciously unconventional twist. Chocolate eggs replaced their traditional counterparts, symbolizing renewal and new beginnings. Sour sticks stood in for bitter herbs, a reminder of the bitterness of slavery and oppression. Chocolate cigars represented the Passover sacrifice, while chocolate spread and kliks served as a sweet substitute for charoset, symbolizing the mortar used by the Israelites in bondage. Dark chocolate stood in for the bitterness of maror, while chocolate milk flowed freely, reminiscent of the traditional wine. And amidst it all, chocolate biscuits served as a reminder of the unleavened bread, or matza, eaten during Passover.

Chocolate Seder Plates

As laughter filled the room and chocolate-stained fingers reached for more treats, the stresses of the outside world began to fade away, if only for a few precious hours.

But beyond the lighthearted indulgence, the chocolate seder served a deeper purpose. It was an opportunity for students to step into leadership roles, sharing insights and reflections on the significance of the holiday. Guided by Rabbi Evan and seven JLIC peers, including Gabe Ganeles, Shira Wulwick, Yoni Davis, Shaya Zaner, Fraydy Meltzer, Benni Trachtenberg, and Idan Tzachi, they explored the themes of freedom, resilience, and hope, finding common ground amidst their diverse perspectives.

Technion JLIC Students leading the Chocolate Seder

In a moment of solemn reflection, Rabbi Evan recited a prayer penned by Rav Yosef Tzvi Ramon, a reminder of the sacrifices made by so many in defense of their homeland. The prayer acknowledges the hostages, the wounded, the fallen, as well as those serving in the IDF. It was a moment of reflection and a reminder of the resilience of the Jewish people. It was a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by Israel and its people, but also a testament to their strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

Rav Yosef Tzvi Ramon Prayer for Passover 2024

Amidst the somber tones, there was also a sense of gratitude and hope. Gratitude for the technological advancements that helped defend Israel against the Iranian attack, gratitude for the opportunity to rebuild and thrive in their own state. Hope for a future where peace reigns, and chocolate seders are no longer a refuge from chaos but a celebration of freedom and unity.

As the evening drew to a close and students prepared to return to their studies, they did so with a renewed sense of purpose and unity. The chocolate seder had served as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is light to be found in community and connection. As they looked ahead to Passover, they did so with grateful hearts, knowing that together, they could overcome whatever challenges lay ahead.

In the end, the chocolate seder was more than just a culinary experience; it was a celebration of resilience, a testament to the power of unity, and a reminder that even in the face of adversity, there is always hope. As the Technion’s students continue on their journey, they do so with the knowledge that no matter what challenges may come their way, they will face them together, strengthened by the bonds forged over chocolate treats and shared prayers.

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