UTICA, N.Y. (Mar. 23)
Temple Beth EI resounded last night to the songs of Passover sung by 275 Catholic priests, nuns and teachers. The occasion–a first for this city–was a special seder requested by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, which had been inspired last year by a discussion of the holiday by Helen (Mrs. Leon) Sperling, former chairman of the local women’s division of the United Jewish Appeal and a concentration camp survivor.
Each participant last night paid his own way, and was guided in the Haggada readings and singing by Rabbi Abraham Eckstein, a graduate of New York’s Yeshiva University. The modified service included prayers for Israel and Soviet Jewry. The celebration led to some unexpected turns. Two members of the Jewish Community Council sat at each table to answer the Catholics’ questions about the holiday.
But a number of them were stumped for answers to, for instance, queries as to the reason for partaking of salt water. The result was that this morning there was “a run on Passover books at the Temple Beth El library,” reported James Senor, chairman of the Committee on Soviet Jewry, former executive director of the JCC and former Human Resources administrator. “It turned out,” he said, “to be a wonderful Jewish experience for the Jewish community.”