Even the religious events are multi-cultural in Queens, the most diverse country in the United States.

Commonpoint Queens will host an informal Interfaith Passover Seder at its Forest Hills venue, which used to be called “Central Queens Y,” on Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m.

Organizers encourage people of all religions, creeds, and races to attend this roughly 90-minute feast, which will feature kosher, halal, and vegetarian dishes. (Wine and grape juice, too.) Last year’s event was cancelled due to a snow storm, but Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians attended this community activity in 2017.

Irwin Goldenberg, a retired Reform Rabbi who taught at Gettysburg College, York College of Pennsylvania, and St. John’s University, will lead the Interfaith Passover Seder. He’ll read from an abbreviated Haggadah, an often edited text that sets the order for the meal and celebrates the Biblical story of the Exodus of escaped Jewish slaves from Egypt to Canaan or what is now Israel.

Rabbi Goldenberg will also explain the stories and Haggadah rituals, such as the reason for eating matzoh (no unleavened bread during Passover), bitter herbs (to recall slavery’s sourness), and charoset (a sweet paste made mostly of apples and nuts representing the mortar that Jewish slaves used to cement bricks). As per another tradition, there will be some singing, too, and somebody will open a symbolic door for Elijah (a way to welcome the Messiah, who is supposed to arrive soon according to Jewish faith).

Traditional Seders usually include an “afikoman hunt” during which children search for a hidden matzoh in order to win prizes. However, Commonpoint Director of Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Programs Peggy Kurtz acknowledged a possible switcheroo with children hiding the matzoh for the adults to find.

Kurtz also noted that this event is part of an ongoing effort to create interfaith relationships and harmony among Commonpoint patrons and community members. “We’re encouraging curiosity,” she said, emphasizing a hope that the meal will generate interesting dialogues.

There is no set price to attend, but Kurtz requests a $21 donation ($5 per child) to help cover basic costs. Space is limited, so advanced registration is strongly suggested. The feast has sold out in the past.

The Interfaith Passover Seder will take place at 67-09 108th St. This facility was the Central Queens Y from 1973 until July 1, 2018, when the agency officially merged with Little Neck’s Samuel Field Y and some other local nonprofits to form Commonpoint. The rebranded nonprofit currently provides senior care, childhood programs, mental health resources, and other social services to almost 50,000 people a year at more than 50 locations.

Image: Commonpoint Queens

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