The Tikkun Olam committee’s annual Second Seder is one of Temple Emanu-El’s longest-running community service projects. For 44 years, we have opened our doors to hundreds of elderly Jews from senior centers throughout the city. They join us for a community seder, staffed by dedicated congregants who volunteer their time to make this special evening possible. Many of our guests do not have the resources to observe a traditional Passover seder, and some would otherwise likely spend the holiday alone. For some in our congregation, Second Seder has grown from a community service project to an intergenerational Passover tradition as their families come back year after year to serve the greater Jewish community.
Lesley and David Koeppel are among the congregants who champion this project; without them it would not be feasible. They and their three children have been involved with Second Seder for almost 15 years and this year will be no different. Lesley plays an integral preparatory role, as she and fellow congregant Juliet Cooper coordinate our volunteers by assigning different jobs based on age, experience, time available, and desire to help in a specific area. There are a number of duties still to be fulfilled this year by our volunteers regarding guest transportation, table service, food preparation, setup, and more. When asked which areas are still in the greatest need of volunteers, Lesley mentioned, “The biggest challenge lies in pre-assigning a table captain for each individual table. Table captains stay with their assigned table for the entire Seder making sure the table is clean, the guests have everything they need, and everyone at the table is served at the same time.”
In addition to table captains, we are looking for table runners, who are given a rolling cart by the kitchen staff filled with food to serve to one or two tables at a time. We are also always in need of helping hands to pack bags of Passover foods for our guests to take with them when they leave.
These are just a few of many ways to get involved with this monumental community service project. If you and your family would like to lend your efforts to Second Seder 5780, we ask that you view a full list of volunteer duties and complete the form at emanuelnyc.org/2ndseder. Once you’ve completed the form, we will reach out to discuss your preferences and availability.