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Famed Katz's Deli Holds Its First Passover Seder

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As the Jewish holiday of Passover began Monday night, the famed Katz's Delicatessen on the Lower East Side held its first seder meal in its back room for almost 100 guests.

It was the first time that the landmark kosher-style deli, which was founded in 1888, hosted a seder, marking the start of the eight-day holiday commemorating the Hebrew exodus from Egypt.

Hannah Goldstein, a rabbinical intern at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side, had the idea to hold the seder at Katz's for young Jewish adults in the city who were unable to join their families.

"I told my friends about it, and they were all like, 'Sign me up, I want to go,'" Goldstein said.

The front room of Katz's remained open to regular deli customers, while the back room's tables were set with white tableclothes and plates for 95 guests who paid $60 each.

They got the full treatment, with bitter herbs to symbolize the bitterness of Egyptian slavery, matzo to symbolize the unleavened bread the Hebrews made while fleeing Egypt, the four glasses of wine for freedom and an almost-traditional meal. Instead of brisket, pastrami was served.

"We're all about tradition, maintaining that Jewish culture and what better place to have a Passover seder than Katz's Deli?" said Jake Dell, the deli's owner.

Many who attended were recent transplants to the city.

"We weren't able to go to Passover seder, to D.C.," said participant Lucy Schlosser.

"This is my first seder here in New York," said participant Brian Elliot. "I've always gone to Detroit or St. Louis to see my family for seder, but I'm like the 'refu-Jew' this year. There was no home for me, so I'm coming to Katz's Deli for seder."

Temple Emanu-El, which also has origins in the Lower East Side, subsidized some of the seder costs.

"Well we were founded on the Lower East Side, like a lot of the New York Jewish community, we come from the Lower East Side," said Ben Zeidman, an assistant rabbi at Temple Emanu-El. "We were founded in an attic just a few blocks from Katz's Deli, in 1845."

Meanwhile, the New York City Police Department is adding more security to synagogues and other sensitive locations around the city this week.

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