Passover in the Desert, Made by Mishmash

"Temple 3.0" on the Seder night

By Yelena Kozlova The annual Mishmash Passover in the Desert festival just celebrated its third year in the barren lands of Panoche Hills.  Over 60 participants, including children and dogs left it all behind and braved the cold and winds for the warmth of community celebration and co-created abundance.  This year, the proverbial “desert” saw a record number of participants from a record number of locations, including Russian and American Jews from San Francisco, South Bay, East Bay, Los Angeles, New York and Israel.  In the true tradition of Passover, a couple of strangers were invited to the celebration and offered shelter, food, warmth and opportunity to join the community.

Ilya Gubernik from Los Angeles summed it up well.

“The event was wonderfully put together with a lot of care and planning. I personally had a great time getting away from the civilization, celebrating Passover, living simple life as part of the community and meeting wonderful new people.”

Passover in the Desert invoked an experiential connection with the holiday and the story of Exodus by inviting the attendees to escape the comfort of their homes to explore freedom from the predictable and make space for the co-created unknown.  Of course, as at most Jewish events, even in the desert there was an over-abundance of food with participants treating one-another to camping culinary creations, including this year’s surprise, a whole lamb roasted for the community, the pièce de résistance of the second Seder dinner.

Reading the 10 Plagues to children on the first traditional Seder.

Along with a traditional first Seder celebration that creatively engaged adults and children alike, workshops were abundant this year as in the past, including Jewish Meditation, photography, Kids and Adult yoga, an Art Studio, and a game illuminating how justice appears in fairy tales.  Hoola hooping and dancing found their place as well, along with two magical nights of old and new Russian bard songs by a well-tended campfire that burnt late into the night.

"Jewish Jury Duty" lead by Eugene Fooksman

Transformations took place in the Panoche Hills “desert” as the participants moved one step closer to tasting their personal freedom.

Whether through exploring new workshops, cooking, or playing and building together, a group of many relative strangers became new friends while old friends were re-discovered.   Passover came alive, and the community left the “desert” making plans to do it all over again next year, in Panoche Hills, and perhaps even in Jerusalem! This was another community building experience brought to life by Mishmash Group volunteers. The Mishmash Group is supported by the Jewish community Federation the last 4 years.

Learn more about Mishmash.


April 20, 2012