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Democrat Photo by Dan Hust

JAMES OPPENHEIM (STANDING) of Monticello helps pass around the matzoh during Wednesday’s seder at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris.

A Special Time

By Dan Hust
HARRIS — March 29, 2002 – Family, friends and hospital workers gathered with Catskill Regional Medical Center patients on Wednesday for what has become a tradition at the Harris hospital.
Featuring as always James Oppenheim of Monticello, the seder – a meal to celebrate Passover, which preceded the Israelis’ exodus from Egyptian slavery thousands of years ago – brought out about 20 people to CRMC’s cafeteria.
Dressed in appropriate garb, Oppenheim and his daughter Kate led the service, filled with an array of symbols recalling the Jews’ slavery, God and Moses’ actions to free them, and their subsequent release, all chronicled in the biblical Book of Exodus.
Although not followed as precisely as perhaps a seder at a local synagogue, Oppenheim said, “We do everything we’re supposed to do.”
Neither is Oppenheim a cantor or a rabbi, but since this is a family service instead of a temple service, he said there is no religious difficulty.
Neither was there a difficulty with the presence and participation of those who could not claim a Jewish heritage. Everyone, for example, received a yarmulke for their head.
“‘Let all who are hungry, join’,” said Oppenheim, quoting from a poem. “This is a festival not just of our history but of all history.”
And so, from the Hillel sandwiches to hard-boiled eggs to the roasted shankbone of lamb, all partook of the seder, in remembrance of God’s grace, mercy and faithfulness to His chosen people.

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