DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - On the Jewish holiday of Passover, there is a moment in the evening ceremony when those gathered at the table ask the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” In Downtown Los Angeles this year, the answer will be, “Because this year, the seder is taking place in a dance club.”
As improbable as that may sound, it’s true. The annual Passover seder (the Hebrew word for the ceremony and dinner) organized by the Jewish Community Center-Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles will be held on Monday, March 25, at Exchange L.A., a Spring Street nightclub that on almost all other nights hosts DJs or electronic dance music acts.
“This is a beautiful place, a gorgeous venue,” said Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, who heads the Downtown JCC. “This is far larger than our previous venue. We’ll be able to add more tables.”
That has become a necessity as Downtown’s Jewish community has grown, Greenwald said. Last year’s seder took place in the basement of the Haas Building, where the temple is located. They maxed out at 140 guests and had to turn people away.
The unlikely location came about because of Greenwald’s relationship with Adi McAbian, the owner of Exchange L.A. McAbian, who took over the venue in a former stock exchange building about four years ago, recalls that the two were discussing doing an event for the Downtown JCC there. When the rabbi asked about using a small space for Passover, McAbian offered the main room.
“We felt this was great way of giving back to the community,” McAbian said.
During Passover, guests read the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Jews’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Greenwald will use the tale to tie into this year’s theme: happiness.
“We all have our own bondage, our hang-ups and inhibitions that we need to bypass in life,” he said. “I believe happiness is a very important decision that people have to make in their lives. This year’s theme is leaving our own personal Egypt through happiness and joy.”
There is one other important element of the seder, Greenwald said: reservations. He noted that the event takes a lot of prep work, and that in addition to the requested $50 donation, people have to RSVP before attending.
In other words, even if the velvet rope at the Exchange is down for the night, you still can’t just waltz in.
Contact Jon Regardie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©Los Angeles Downtown News.