This week, about two dozen tables in Boulder County featured new, personal seder plates among the matzah, Elijah cups and guests.
Two weeks before Passover, women gathered at the Chabad Jewish Center in Longmont for a salad bar dinner, conversation, and to paint their own seder plates, which were provided by Crackpots, a paint-your-own-styled ceramic studio located just up the street from the center.
Ruth Rosenblum, a recent transplant from King of Prussia, Penn., participated in the event with a couple of her friends.
I have never been to a [Jewish] program like the ones Ive attended at the Chabad Center; theyre all very creative and I enjoy the social part, too.
Rosenblum first discovered the Chabad Center a year ago at a Purim event and has returned for some of the more artistic programs.
She was so pleased with the results of her seder plate that she went back to Crackpots to make another one.
Im going to use them both this year; one at each end of the table.
Marsha Stern was drawn to the event in part for its artistic bent her daughter is an artist and suggested they go together but also because it featured a community of Jewish women.
In recent years, Ive felt a connection to other Jewish women. I think as I get older, theres something spiritual about it for me.
I seek out events with other Jewish women, especially during the holidays, she said.
As for her seder plate? I love it. My husband was really impressed by it, too.
But what impressed her more was the size of the event and how many Jewish people live in Longmont.
Statistically, Jews dont even register as part of the population. But in reality, its large enough to support a Jewish Center.
Shayna Borenstein runs the Womens Circle events. The Passover seder plate was the third the circle has done. Next year, she hopes to meet once a month. She, too, was pleased with the turnout. We only advertised it a week earlier and had a nice crowd.
Borenstein and her husband, Rabbi Yakov Borenstein, the Jewish Centers rabbi, moved from Brooklyn to Longmont a few years ago to open the facility and offer programs to the local community.
Theirs is the third such center in Boulder County, after the Chabad Lubavitch of Boulder County (located in South Boulder) and Chabad at CU, which opened shortly before the Borensteins moved to Colorado.
While Chabad-Lubavitch is Orthodox, being Orthodox or aligning oneself with Chabad is not a requirement to attend any of their events.
Both Rosenblum and Stern describe themselves as unaffiliated Jews who feel accepted and comfortable at Longmonts Chabad Jewish Center.
In fact, Shayna Borenstein says she is typically the only Orthodox woman at each event. We have Reform, Conservative, Renewal, and unaffiliated women join us.
One of the core tenets of Chabad-Lubavitch is Jewish mysticism and it was duly represented during the pre-Passover event.
Shayna read two short stories as women were setting up their work sites and preparing to paint; one about relationships, one about gaining freedom, each with a mystical connection. While the purpose was to spark thoughtful conversation, the focus was turned to the painting.
It was hard to talk to people and paint, explained Stern. Everyone wanted to make a really nice seder plate.
Rosenblum echoed that sentiment. I think we were all concentrating and trying to make the best seder plate that we could that would fit our needs.