90 guests from a variety of faith traditions attended the 42nd Annual Saul Kessler Interfaith Seder on March 30 at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck. The seder was hosted by the temple’s Brotherhood, its men’s organization. The seder is named for the late Saul Kessler, a former Brotherhood president who made interfaith relations a priority during his family’s many years as members of the temple. Temple members may attend only if they bring one or more non-Jewish friends.
The seder was led by Rabbi Brian Stoller, Cantor Adam Davis, and Brotherhood President Matthew Moshen. A highlight was Rabbi Stoller’s novel approach to the main part of the seder, telling the story of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, Many of the guests, both Jewish and of other faiths, were given roles in the story, and were “interviewed” by the rabbi regarding their experiences in the Passover exodus story. The interviews led to many moments of ingenuity and hilarity. The seder meal was provided by W Kosher Events.
Speakers included two high school students, one Jewish and one Catholic, who were part of this year’s group of Project Understanding participants. Project Understanding was begun in 1987 by the late Monsignor Tom Hartman and and former Temple Beth-El President Roger Tilles. Through the vision of Father Tom and Mr. Tilles, and through Mr. Tilles’s philanthropy, the lives of hundreds Long Island Catholic and Jewish young people have been molded and changed. Each year the highlight of Project Understanding is a trip to Israel for the Catholic and Jewish high schoolers, led by educators from both faiths.