Haven: At Passover, Moorestown home is a sanctuary

Zachary Broder, 10, with the family dog, Henry, in what would normally be a formal living room that the Broders have turned into a combination lounge/den with a bar - great, they say, for casual mixing and mingling.
Zachary Broder, 10, with the family dog, Henry, in what would normally be a formal living room that the Broders have turned into a combination lounge/den with a bar - great, they say, for casual mixing and mingling.
Posted: March 25, 2013

There is a certain happy chaos to life these days at the Moorestown home of Meredith and Seth Broder.

As Passover arrives Monday night at sundown, the Broders and their children, Eliza, 11, and Zachary, 10, and family and friends will mark the ancient ritual that celebrates Jewish freedom from Egyptian slavery.

They will do it in a home Meredith and Seth designed for just such occasions, where they can enjoy a deep love of family and heritage in a setting where informality reigns.

It really all begins at the front door, which Meredith always loved at her father's Tudor house. When he made renovations to his home, the door was saved for her.

"Incorporating that door and its leaded windows was one of our first priorities," she says.

Inside, where the usual greeter is a very enthusiastic Havanese named Henry, the decor is a felicitous blend of contemporary, traditional, even rustic.

"And every single room and space in this house is used," says Seth, 43, a lawyer and former member of the Moorestown Township Council. "There are no places where people can't relax."

Meredith, 42, a luxury-travel specialist, emphasizes that even the Passover ritual sprawls through several downstairs rooms.

"With 25 guests, we figure the only way to go is not to stick to the dining room table."

The Broders' home is set on an angle on a lush, heavily treed corner lot. There are expansive views of the outdoors, especially from the main center of gravity, the kitchen/family room area.

Having known each other since childhood - there is a photo of the two dancing together at Meredith's bat mitzvah that attests to her early crush - the Broders were in harmony about eliminating a formal living room. The space that would typically have been designated for that has been turned into a combination lounge/den with a bar - a great place, they say, for casual mixing and mingling.

Against one wall rests a sofa that belonged to Meredith's late paternal grandmother, a piece originally covered in flocked velvet that this modern couple has transformed with a rich chocolate fabric while maintaining the ornate carved frame.

Dramatic light fixtures in materials such as iron and wood mixed with modern glass are scene-stealers throughout the house.

"We didn't want anything lavish or formal, so we opted for interesting," says Meredith, whose flair for design has been inherited by her daughter. Eliza already has sold her prototype for lacrosse shorts to the hot sports-apparel company Flow Society.

"I just thought up some ideas one day - it was fun," says the nonchalant young designer.

An expanse of low-maintenance wood flooring throughout much of the downstairs has kept the look of the Broder home consistent, as has a mellow color palette. Beiges and cocoas flow from room to room, and accessories range from a pair of hefty wrestler statuettes to contemporary stainless-steel pieces and poster art with pizzazz.

As the Broders prepare for their Passover Seder, the kitchen is the home's nerve center, and the family room adjoining it will accommodate the large majority of their guests. Both spaces are light, contemporary, and welcoming.

The family room's cathedral ceiling is outlined in beams, and a fireplace with handsome mosaic tiles, each hand-picked, is a highlight.

Monday night, that space will be filled with guests, including young ones. The Broders always make a point of inviting their children's non-Jewish friends to share their heritage.

The assemblage will follow the Haggadah created by the Broders, which translates the order of the Passover service into child-friendly text, pictures, and songs. Some, like the theme from Gilligan's Island and "It's a Small World," have been creatively reworded for this celebration of freedom.

As that story is told, guests will partake of symbolic foods like bitter herbs, greens, and salt water.

Most of all, the Broders will happily share their holiday and customs, safe and free in a place light years removed from bondage in Egypt.

That place is a personal sanctuary they call home.

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