Most people don’t like to think about Pesach until they absolutely have to, but Sarah Stambler, longtime congregant of Congregation Ohab Zedek on the Upper West Side, has been thinking about it since November. Knowing that fellow community member and expert theologian Micah Halpern would be spending Pesach in Orlando as a scholar-in-residence, Stambler jumped on the opportunity to get the shul down to Florida and learn with him. A few phone calls later, and OZ created an exclusive offer with the Elite Dimensions Passover program, with a portion going right back to the shul.
“Pesach is tricky because there are so many variables that dictate where a person will end up going,” Stambler explained. One of those deciding variables, she continued, might be the chance to spend a Pesach seder with Halpern, who not only is a frequent speaker at OZ, but a world-renowned political commentator and analyst. And those who sign up for the Elite Dimensions Passover program through OZ would receive a seat at Halpern’s seder table, along with their own copy of the “Four Sons Haggadah,” written by OZ Senior Rabbi Allen Schwartz.
And of course, there is a fundraising aspect to all of this. “It’s a nice addition to our bank account… Of course, it’s not like doing a dinner or anything, but it’s a way for the community to get involved and do something together,” Stambler shared. She arranged with Elite Dimensions to have the congregation receive a percentage of the proceeds from sign-ups.
Though Stambler’s idea for joining the Elite Passover program came to her back in November, she was put in touch with the head of the program, Joe York, a few months later to create the arrangement. “Joe was very receptive; it meant I was bringing in people to his program. Part of our deal was that I would send the sign-ups directly to him, and he was okay with that…it gave him more control over enrollment,” she explained. “The process was very straightforward.”
As for getting people to sign up for the program, Stambler has been working with OZ to get the word out. “People have been approaching me to sign up, so I’m excited that there’s interest.” She emphasized that the exclusive offer is not for members of OZ only—anyone is welcome to use OZ’s registration code and receive a spot at Halpern’s seder, as well as a copy of Rabbi Schwartz’s book. “We’re open to everyone.”
Overall, Stambler hopes that this program will “make life simple” for those who sign up. She said that she is looking forward to spending her Pesach with friends in Orlando this year. “It’s nice that we’re all going to be together.”
By Channa Fischer