The annual Jewish Seder hosted by the St. John’s Jewish Student Association may not occur this year.
Their request for $3,000 to fund the Seder was denied at the Student Government meeting, Monday. The event is designated for April 2 in the University Center.
The request was denied at the recommendation of the Budget Committee due to poor preparation by the association and a lack of representation.
“There is no doubt that there are rules and procedures and if you follow them it makes things easier for everyone,” Rabbi Leonard W. Stern, adviser for JSA, said.
Nevertheless, he was disappointed with the outcome. “Seder is, if not the most important, one of the most important celebrations. Just as Easter is the fulfillment of the messianic hope for Christians, Passover is the fulfillment of the messianic hope for Jews.”
The Budget Committee chair explained its recommendation for denying the request. “At the presentation before the Budget Committee they didn’t give specifics. We wanted specifics so we recommended to deny,” Andrew Jarrett, the budget committee chair, said.
“A lot of organizations come and if they do not, we table them (make a decision at the following meeting),” Nina Petraro, senior senator for Student Government, said.
The members were unable to table the event because it will occur before the next general meeting.
“I’m not sure of the exact name of the event, they could have come a month earlier with their request,” Fabrice Armand, the student affairs chair, said. “It would be to their advantage if their proposal was more organized.”
According to Stern, Christina Pinksova, the president of the organization, was present at the start of the meeting but had to leave because her grandfather was in the hospital.
Inna Lamm, an affiliate of JSA and a member of Student Government, was asked to speak on behalf of the organization.
“The student organization has four executives plus general body members, and it is up to them to be responsible for such an important event,” Megan Kates, secretary of Student Government, added.
The members were concerned with the high price of the event, but Lamm explained that “the Seder requires certain types of food are needed and therefore it requires a lot of funds.”
There were three motions presented to the floor regarding the situation. Jason Porter, the junior representative for the Tobin College of Business, suggested that JSA make any needed amendments and the request be tabled until Friday.
It was also requested that Stern be allowed to speak on behalf of the organization. However, that request was also denied. Student Government’s bylaws do not prohibit to faculty adviser from speaking for an organization but the SGI members felt it was inappropriate.
“The whole thing with having faculty and administration speak is that Student Government is students and we want it to be run by students,” Kates said. “I voted against it because this is a student body that should be run by the students.”
JSA had met with the Budget Committee the previous week to discuss their request and at the recent meeting the committee recommended the floor to deny their proposal.
The request needed a two-thirds majority from SGI to pass because the JSA budget was frozen.
“Their budget is frozen for not attending Organizational Congress meetings,” Kates said. “Their budget is frozen out of their organization’s irresponsibility.”
William Hannon, Student Government’s treasurer was also concerned with the large participation from the outside community during this event. The ratio of participants from the outside community is much larger than from the St. John’s.
Jarrett said during the meeting, “that this is a community event and we are not a charity.”
Stern and Lamm both contradicted this statement by stating that they need at least 20 St. John’s students to serve food. Lamm did say that she invites Holocaust survivors from the community to the Seder.
Kates was one of the members who voted for an approval of the JSA request. “Although circumstances in the organization failed to suggest they are responsible, it [Seder] is an important tradition that we should uphold.”
Stern and Lamm then met outside with members from the Executive Board and with SGI adviser Mary Pelkowski to discuss the vote and other means of funding. “There are people on the e-board who want to work with us,” Stern said.
“The end result of this is that we were given the opportunity to speak with the Executive Board and see if there are other ways we can raise money,” Lamm said.