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The “Third Seder” at the Waldorf Astoria

A Waldorf Story by Susan Levin
1955

My fondest memories of Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating freedom, centered on the event held for many years in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria.

Beginning in the mid 1960s the Workmen’s Circle sponsored the Third Seder (traditionally, one in Israel and the second elsewhere). The story of the exodus out of Egypt, the Haggadah was told in poetry & song in the Yiddish language. Students of the WC (Arbeter Ring) competed for roles in the annual event, which at one time filled the Grand Ballroom to capacity.

I was honored to be assigned a part several times. I vividly recall the first time, as a 12 year old stepping into the lobby of the Waldorf. I was mesmerized by the chandeliers. The aura created by the majesty of it all has stayed with me all these 60 somewhat years later. At some point, the Third Seder was held in other Manhattan locations, and while the “story” told never changed, the event itself was never the same, at least not for me.