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UNF Chabad and Jewish Ospreys gear up for Passover celebrations at UNF

Passover begins this Monday, a week-long holiday honoring the Israelites’ journey to freedom from slavery in Egypt. At the University of North Florida, the Jewish Ospreys are hosting Passover Seder, a massive dinner, to kick off the holiday on Monday.

This feast will include matzah, an unleavened bread eaten by the Jewish people on their desert trek, and several other symbolic foods.

Passover is one of the most significant and widely celebrated Jewish holidays, and according to Rabbi Shmuli Novack, director of the Chabad of Southside in Jacksonville and founder of the UNF Chabad, this year’s celebration will be even more meaningful in light of the Israel-Hamas war.

Novack holding a Ukranian matza during an interview with Spinnaker before last year’s Passover. (Carter Mudgett)

The war began Simchat Torah, another Jewish holiday celebrating the end of the yearly Torah reading, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Many Jewish people throw parties, singing and dancing the night away.

“The news started trickling in, and the mood immediately became uneasy. The conflict in our minds was, ‘How can we celebrate and dance when this is happening?’” said Novack. 

Novack said this feeling has lingered since, with over 1,200 estimated to have been killed on Oct. 7 and 129 of the hostages still missing as of April 11.

The conflict is not just affecting those who live in Israel and Palestine but communities worldwide. Antisemitic incidents in the United States have skyrocketed since Oct. 7.

“Silence is part of the problem because if you’re not willing to condemn something that is just complete evil, what are you able to condemn?” Novack said. 

Novack said this Passover is especially significant because these events still profoundly affect the Jewish community and weigh on their minds daily. He and the Jewish Ospreys are committed to celebrating with UNF students.

On Monday night, Novack and the Jewish Ospreys will host a Passover Seder for students at the Chabad of Southside, 11271 Alumni Way. Students can RSVP and find information on any other events hosted by the UNF Chabad on its website.

A kosher bar was added to the Chabad of Southside last year. (Carter Mudgett)

The Chabad also has a chapel for prayer, an art gallery, a kosher bar with a 25% student discount and Shabbat dinners on Friday nights.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Carter Mudgett
Carter Mudgett, Reporter
Carter Mudgett is a University of North Florida student majoring in multimedia journalism. He was Spinnaker's editor-in-chief from August 2021 to December 2023. Carter led Spinnaker to be awarded a 2023 Online Pacemaker Award, and most recently placed second in the Society of Professional Journalists's Sunshine State Awards for "Best Coverage of LGBT Issues" in the college category. Backed by a passion for creative storytelling and accurate reporting, Carter typically covers education, gender and race issues.

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