After attending a Seder at my friend’s grandparents’ house in Boca on Monday night, I returned to campus the following day and was brave enough to enter the ever-treacherous Chartwells dining hall to see what culinary variations they would be offering the Jewish students of UM. After swiping my card, I check out the menu board and am impressed to find they have a few different options marked under the title “Passover Dinner.”
As expected, they offer a brisket with vegetables and potatoes: a classic dish. They also have a box of matzah-perfectly acceptable. Just as I am about to pat Chartwells on the back for a job well done, my eyes stumble upon the final item: “Challah Bread and Apples with Honey for Dipping.” Oy vey!
First of all, anybody that knows anything about Passover understands that Jews are unable to eat bread during the week-long holiday, hence the concept of matzah. Does Chartwells think we eat matzah because it tastes good? If they do, I want to try the matzah they have been tasting. As for the apples and honey, nice idea if it were six months ago and we were still celebrating Rosh Hashanah.
But to get back to the challah. Honestly, how ignorant can Chartwells be? It is as if they took all the holiday-oriented Jewish meals they could think of and put them out at once in an attempt to look religiously adept. I am amazed that not one person in the Chartwells front office at the school even attempted to research the rules associated with Passover fare. It would have been as simple as consulting a few of the over 1,500 Jewish students that attend UM, or giving a phone call to Hillel or Chabad.
I suppose it is possible that Chartwells knew that challah was not kosher for Passover and simply used the holiday as a platform to offer other traditional dishes to non-Jewish students. Even if this is the case, Passover is not the appropriate holiday to do so and challah certainly should not be listed under the title “Passover Dinner.”
As my Jewish friends and I stood dumbfounded in the dining hall, we couldn’t help but simply be insulted by the ineptitude of Chartwells and the utter ridiculousness of the situation. I can only hope that Chartwells is better prepared next year, because I really love Hanukkah gilt and hamantashen too.