BYU Passover Seder
By: Kaytee Johnson
Did you know that BYU has held a Passover Seder service every year for over 40 years? And that it’s one of the biggest in the western United States?
Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick (a professor of Religious Education at BYU and the Jerusalem Center) directs the service, which includes a catered meal of unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and other traditional foods. The catering staff is even asked to prepare the meal in a “kosher” style. It is not an exact replica service, but a “simulated” service, as Chadwick calls it, because it is not on the calendar night of Passover and is altered slightly to help the mostly Christian audience appreciate and connect with the service.
Why attend such an event? Gaining familiarity with and appreciation for people of other nations and faiths is an excellent experience for anyone. Further, this service may have implications in your own life and religion. Church manuals describe the Passover saying, “In addition to reminding Israel that God had protected them from the plague of death and delivered them from the Egyptians, the Passover also symbolized an important future event—The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, which delivers us from sin and death.” There are impactful symbols in the story and service that have deep meaning for Christians. These symbols include:
a first-born male lamb without blemish the Savior
the blood of the lamb that saves them from death Christ’s shed blood that cleanses & saves the faithful
the removal of leaven removal of sin through repentance
eating in haste responding eagerly to the deliverance the Savior offers
Speaking of this symbolism, Chadwick says, “Jesus was taking the Passover and using it for His own specific purposes.” He explained that Christ reminded His Jewish Apostles to remember the Passover Lamb—His sacrifice of body and blood—every time they ate the unleavened bread. “They would have understood that. Because we in the Christian community [often] don’t know very much about Judaism … we miss that symbolism. But it is there.”
Further, our sacrament meeting services continue as a type of “Passover” for us. Elder Howard W. Hunter said that just as the Passover was a covenant of protection for ancient Israel, the sacrament is a “new covenant of safety” for us (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 24; or Ensign, May 1974, 18).
Clearly, this is a remarkable event and is sure to be influential for anyone that attends. BYU’s service has attracted much attention in the last 4 years and was even mentioned in The Times of Israel.
Take a look at the information below and see if you can make it to a service this year!
- Date: Fridays, March 15, March 22, and March 29, 2019
- Time: Begins 6:00 p.m. (please arrive early)
- Location: 3228 Wilkinson Student Center
- Tickets: BYU students, faculty, and staff: $20 | General public: $30
- The dinner lasts approximately 3 hours.
- Attendees wear Sunday dress.
- This service is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
- Dining service can accommodate most dietary restrictions.
For more information, or to purchase tickets for this year’s services, visit: