At BYU Seder, Mormons Dip, Eat, Sing Their Own ‘Dayenu’ — The Jewish Daily Forward
Inside the student center, the tables were set with all of the Passover staples: bitter herbs, haroset, parsley sprigs and salt water, a Haggadah at each place setting. By 6:15 on a recent Friday evening, the hall had filled up with college and graduate students, alumni, faculty and a smattering of “townies” — more than 160 people in total. It was a scene reminiscent of the Seders that so many Jewish campus centers host at Passover time.
But this was no Hillel-sponsored event, a fact that would become apparent as soon as the invocation was given “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Rather, this Seder was hosted by Brigham Young University, the flagship school of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Seders have become a tradition at BYU, where nearly 99% of its 33,000 students identify as Mormon, and where, according to a university spokeswoman, there are only three Jewish students.
This year, BYU is sponsoring seven springtime Seders. Each of them is capped at 165 people, and all are sold-out affairs with long waiting lists, said Victor Ludlow, a BYU religion professor who has been organizing campus Seders for almost four decades.
“I do so many of these here,” Ludlow said, “that the Salt Lake rabbi — we were on a radio program together for the Easter-Passover season — said: ‘Professor Ludlow, here, I call him the Passover Patriarch of Provo. He does more Seders than anyone I know, except, maybe, Elijah.’”