Some Jewish students will be facing a conflict of interest during one particular weekend in April.
The Jewish holiday of Passover, which will last from Apr. 6 to 14, will coincide with Spring Fling weekend, which the Social Planning and Events Committee has scheduled for Apr. 13 and 14.
Jews who live outside of Israel traditionally observe the first and last two days of the holiday, with some exceptions. These particular days fall on a weekend about once every four years and only coincide with Fling every 12 years, according to Engineering junior and Hillel External Vice President Jeremy Hurewitz.
During this time, dietary and other restrictions are more stringent than during the middle four days. Restrictions vary according to the observer’s level of orthodoxy, but for some, this means restricted use of electricity, limited monetary spending and prohibited consumption of leavened bread and grain-based alcohol.
Every year, the observance of the Sabbath — which begins on Friday night — conflicts with Fling’s concert. However, this year, due to the Passover overlap, more Jewish students will be compelled to adhere to the restrictions.
“Traditional Jewish observance does not encourage attending events such as concerts on the Sabbath,” College junior and Orthodox Community at Penn co-chair Ricki Notis wrote in an email.
Though the conflict with Sabbath exists every year, “Passover-Fling is a bit more of a conflict because it’s a time when Jews who are less observant tend to explore the Jewish campus experience on a deeper level.”
With both events still months ahead, SPEC and Hillel have partnered to make the weekend still enjoyable and accessible to Jewish students who choose to observe the holiday.
So far, both groups are planning to provide kosher food in the Quadrangle and other prime settings for Fling events.
The date for the Fling weekend is often chosen about three years in advance, College senior and SPEC president Shana Rusonis said.
“Now we’re looking at the date almost five years down the road, so that both communities can be aware of any potential conflicts,” she added.
Hurewitz said the reason why Hillel and SPEC have already engaged in serious talks is that Passover has not only religious significance but also cultural significance.
“We were concerned people would not have this awareness during Fling,” he said. “Students become consumed in the celebrations.”
To increase awareness, Hillel will start seeking out kosher food vendors and other dining options for observing Jews, such as stands that offer chocolate-covered matzah or boxed kosher meals that can be obtained with meal swipes.
Notis, who will be observing Passover, doesn’t see the overlap as being too restrictive for Jews.
“It’s always difficult trying to juggle times [of events] and things, but there’s always a balance to be made,” she said.
Without the use of cell phones, cameras or motorized transportation, keeping in touch with friends and traveling to events downtown pose the greatest challenges, College junior and Sigma Delta Tau sorority member Alexa Bryn said.
“Being inaccessible, it’s often hard to find people, especially in such a large context,” she added.
Passover’s restrictions on alcohol have also garnered attention.
Bryn said when observant Jews keep the Seder — the ritual feast initiating the Passover holiday — they are obliged to drink four cups of wine. This observance demonstrates that as far as drinking is concerned, it’s less about permission to drink than what one chooses to drink, she said.
Certain alcohols, like kosher-for-Passover wines and potato-based vodka, are permitted for the holiday. However, Bryn doubted whether “you [could] go into a frat party where most of what people are drinking will be certified for Passover.”
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