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Passover in a Pandemic

Thanks to a donor’s generosity, UW students and medical residents had the opportunity to celebrate the Seder, in spite of social distancing.

Matt Bernstein '05
April 15, 2020

The world is in turmoil. Quarantines. Isolation. Shortages.

In spite of that, Jerome Silver ’70 saw to it that Jewish students at UW–Madison would still be able to enjoy the Passover holiday and two nights of Seder, for free, thanks to the Silver Family Hillel Engagement Fund. The fund provides financial support for programs that help students establish themselves in the UW Jewish community by meeting and engaging with others at Hillel, the Wisconsin Union, dorms, and other facilities.

For Madison students, Silver single-handedly sponsored Passover, which included:

  • A virtual Seder led by Rabbi Steinberger from her home
  • free meals for students
  • half-priced meals for all eight days of the holiday period
  • free Passover meals to internal medicine residents on call at the UW Hospital and Clinics.

Residents are considered essential healthcare workers — they’re physicians who are completing their training at UW Health. Bennett Vogelman, who oversees the internal medicine residency program, contacted Hillel for these meals.

Silver is a radiologist in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He believes that a key to the success of students is building solid connections to the UW and to their Jewish identity, so he wants to provide engagement opportunities like Kosher Seder dinners.

This year, Hillel had “Seders in a Box,” each a complete Seder meal for two, including the Seder Plate items: Shank bone, Charoset, hardboiled egg, bitter herbs, parsley, and lettuce. Hillel distributed approximately 400 meals over the two Seder nights.  

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