Kosher BBQ ribs, fried chicken, fries — and 13 Scotch companies pouring samples — nothing could make a gathering of 500-plus men any more content than devouring their favorite comfort foods while bonding and schmoozing with other men. In addition to fine fare and camaraderie, the men benefited from Rabbi Nissan Antine’s discussion concerning how to make their own family Passover Seder relevant and significant.
They also had the opportunity to “give back” by bringing gently-used sport coats and suits for The Wider Circle and by donating to the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA) for their Maaot Chitim mission to make certain all families can celebrate Passover in a meaningful way. The 5th annual BBQ, Scotch and Seder Summit took place on March 22 at the Beth Sholom Congregation on Seven Locks Road in Potomac. This gathering was the largest Seder summit event held in the D.C. region.
The chairman of the event, Mark Eidelman, said, “Guys who attended were from all ends of the Jewish spectrum — from Chabad Rabbis to guys who have never been in a modern orthodox synagogue. They came from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia — and further away. We have one dad who traveled from New Jersey to attend with his son. We had three-generation attendees — grandfather, son and grandson. With all of today’s distractions, this is pretty rare.”
The group has grown from 130 to more than 500 who came last year and this year. Besides the bonding and friendship that exudes from the event, men have the opportunity to help and support fellow men. This year they launched a “job matching” list where attendees are able to list job and business opportunities that they are aware of in their own companies or elsewhere — thus eliminating the “online dark hole” where many resumes end up.
The host for the evening was Rabbi Nissan Antine of the Beth Sholom Congregation. “This event is an amazing opportunity for men to come together and rethink their values, expand their Jewish knowledge and practices and gain some new ideas concerning their Passover Seder. I will be discussing how to make this important holiday meaningful to them as well as to their families. Seder is a ‘home holiday.’ The primary mitzvah is to teach your children about the Passover story – the story of our people and their values. We were slaves in Egypt and now God has set us free. The seder helps to make us feel like we are there and to understand what Jews have gone through. We eat the matzah, the bread of slavery and taste the bitter root so we know what it tastes like and feels like,” he said.
“The specific message is that children should be able to look to their parents as role models — not teachers — but people who are living their values — and living life as they want their children to see it lived. We can’t ask kids to ‘do as we say and not as we do’ — we have to ask them to do what we do. We need to teach them that acts of kindness are important — as important as living life with strong values.”
He continued: “Prepare, prepare, prepare” for the seder. Ask people who are coming to bring open-ended questions to be discussed around the table. Questions such as ‘What does it mean to be free?’ or ‘What is a home?’ or ‘What makes me feel connected to Judiasm?’ Teaching the concept of gratitude is important too. It should be a special day that makes memories for everyone who celebrated Passover Seder with you and your family.”
Antine is thrilled that so many men attended this event. “This is wonderful — having a time when guys can just be together. I think we all share gratitude for our brotherhood. It’s also wonderful because rabbis from other synagogues come as well as senior management from the Washington Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Center, Israeli Embassy, FIDF, Technion, Israel Bonds, the Jewish Community Relations Council as well as a number of community business leaders.
Attendee David Farber summed up the evening: “Rabbi Antine’s dvar (lesson/short talk) about role models was remarkable. And the evening remains a role model for us all in how to build community, donate charity, support others, all while having an enormous amount of fun — and ribs too!”