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Passover Guide and Seder Supplement

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Passover Guide and Seder Supplement


version 61.7

(updated 03-25-01)

The Festival of Passover (Hebrew – “Pesach” or “Pesah”) has a unique place in the Jewish home because of the Seder, the many changes that take place and the special atmosphere in the home during the Passover week. This Passover home atmosphere is something created by the family. One makes "Pesach" at home by the enthusiastic, cheerful observance of the traditional rules and regulations especially pertaining to foods, unique family and ethnic food customs, their preparation and serving.
You should feel encouraged to create new traditions and customs in your Seder’s interpretation of the Torah narrative and Rabbinic re-statement of the Exodus from Egypt. Plenty of “white space” has been left throughout these pages to provide for your own individual instructions, interpretations, additions or creations. In addition to participating in communal Passover projects of tzedakah and caring, to attending synagogue services with your family, potential precious family holiday activities empower you to create and offer your family a beautiful and meaningful Passover heritage. The treasures of childhood memories are immeasurably enriched by the indelible impressions left on the young through sharing in Passover preparations, the Seder meal and the holiday services.
The following pages have been collected, edited, written and re-written numerous times, and they have been shared in congregational bulletins, faxes and now over the Internet. Wherever possible I have tried to give proper attribution. I hope that as we learn who has written which of these pieces we can give credit properly in the years to come. One should never simply take credit for the work of others and that was not my intention.
This is a work still in progress and I would hope that if you would like to make a contribution that can be used, I would be grateful to incorporate it into this supplement and of course give you credit. Please note that spellings and transliteration will vary and indeed some readings will certainly provoke discussion, both agreement and disagreement which is the intention of the Passover Seder.
Preparing this Passover Guide for our family and our congregations has been a labor of love over the years. I hope that parts or all of it will be helpful to you and your family as well as friends for a sweeter and more meaningful Seder and Pesach Festival. With best wishes from our home to yours for a “zissen Pesach”
Barry Dov Lerner

Table of Contents

Preparing for Passover page 3

Checklist for Passover page 4

What to include in your Seder page 5

Do’s and Don’ts page 7

Passover For Children page 8

Questions and Answers page 6

Why Do We . . . page 10

How To Conduct the Seder page 13

Supplementary Seder Readings page 15

Recommended Haggadot page 22

Passover Songs page 23

Miscellaneous Readings, Discussions page 34



The "Siyyum" Service for the first-born is held in gratitude to God for sparing the first-born sons among the children of Israel when the Egyptian first born were smitten. It is conducted at the Synagogue early on the morning of the eve of Pesach; when Passover begins Saturday evening, the Siyyum is conducted the previous Thursday morning.


It is the practice, according to ancient tradition, after the house has been thoroughly cleaned, to make a final ceremonial search for whatever "chametz" may remain. This search, called Bedikat Chametz", is conducted on the eve of the day preceding Passover and the "chametz" is burned on the following morning. (See the Haggadah for the traditional recitations at these ceremonies). One may eat a chametz meal until 10:00 AM on the eve of Pesach. No matzah is to be eaten until the Seder that night. The term "Chametz" or "Leaven" is applied not only to food, the use of which is to be avoided the eight days of Pesach but also to the dishes and utensils in which foods are prepared or served during the year.


Observing the laws of Kashrut on Passover is somewhat different from observing Kashrut throughout the year. The joy of keeping the Passover will be realized when you are seated at your Seder table knowing that you have prepared your foods in the traditional manner. This spirit of rejoicing will erase from your minds any memories of labors you undertook to observe the Passover rules. The rules and procedures for preparing the house are according to the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly.


This is a more complicated procedure and it is one in which you should consult with your own Rabbi and congregation for a final opinion. For many, the house is prepared for Passover and all leavened products are removed. Since Passover hasn’t begun and one customarily doesn’t eat matzah until the Seder, it has been one accepted pattern to accompany the Shabbat meal with “egg matzah” that is “kosher for Passover” in terms of being in your possession but isn’t “kosher” as matzah for the Seder and Festival unless there are extenuating medical circumstances.

Because there are technical issues involved, please speak with your Rabbi for specific guidance in your preparations for Passover when the First Seder occurs on Saturday evening.


Make sure you have sold your Hametz through your local Rabbi before Passover

Don’t forget to give a contribution to“Matzah Fund” (“Maot Hittim”) providing for the needy.

Search at the correct time in the evening, involve the child(ren) and reciting the appropriate texts.

Remember to burn the hametz the next morning or discard it as your Rabbi has taught.

Attend the synagogue and the special study session and breakfast with your first-born (and all your children) the “siyyum” freeing you from fasting during the day before the Seder.

Set out at least one Seder plate with:

Karpas – celery sticks, potato pieces, cucumber

Marror – grated horseradish

Hazeret – bitter lettuce, Romaine

Haroset – use a different recipe each Seder and for each Seder plate

Zeroah – roasted bone or a roasted beet for vegetarians

Beitzah – hard-boiled egg which is a little browned
Small bowl(s) of saltwater should be conveniently placed near each Seder plate
Set out a plate with a Matzah cover and three matzot – try and get hand-made matzot. Some add a fourth matzah under the matzah cover for oppressed Jews. Don’t forget to put out plates of regular matzah.
Try using a different bottle of Israeli wine for each of the four cups, perhaps beginning with dry wine and concluding with sweet. For children and others make sure to have grape juice and there are Israeli grape juices as well.
Don’t forget to provide a Cup for Elijah – which some fill with wine from each participant


Provide the same Haggadah for all in order to follow conveniently.

Provide an additional Haggadah, each with a different commentary at each place.

Each one to have their own kiddush cup

A pillow for each participant who wishes to really recline


A Haggadah marked with notes, pages from other sources, songs, comments, etc.

Prizes for the various contests and quizzes for the children, especially the Afikoman

Props for various ways to involve the children and the adults throughout

*Think about who will be present and how to involve them meaningfully and respectfully.

A “good” Seder is not measured by the amount of time spent reading the Haggadah and discussing the Exodus or the length of the meal. A “great” Seder is one in which everyone has a chance to participate, and using a good Haggadah will facilitate each member of your family and friends to take parts in the Seder appropriate to their age, Hebrew and English facility, special interests, etc.
It is also much easier to have “participatory” Seder when the Haggadah is more than just a text, even with an English translation. Select a Haggadah for the Seder that has a variety of options for participation, and then select additional materials from the many different Haggadot, which are being published with special themes, from a vegetarian Haggadah, a feminist Haggadah or a kibbutz Haggadah. Don’t forget that there are magnificent art Haggadot that have illustrations and reproductions of great Passover art from the last 1000 years.
For those who would prefer “a Bare Bones Basic Seder” we can thank Noam Zion for the following suggestion built into The Shalom Hartman Institute Haggadah A Different Night. He suggests that sections 1-17 which take place before the meal should take about an hour. However, it often occurs that once people “get into” a Seder, it can take longer; don’t cut off the discussion and readings too early!

  1. Signposts of the Seder: Kadesh Urchatz

  2. First Cup: Kiddush

  3. Dips: Karpas

  4. Breaking the Matza: Yachatz

  5. The Story of the Matza: Ha Lachma

  6. Four Questions: Ma Nishtana

  7. Storytelling – “We were slaves”: Avadeem Hayeenu

  8. Four Children

  9. The Promise: V’hee She-am-da

  10. The Tale of the Wandering Jew

  11. Ten Plagues

  12. Dayeinu

  13. Explaining Pesch, Matza and Maror

  14. “In Every generation”

  15. Psalm 114: Hallel

  16. Second Cup of Wine

  17. Eating Matza, Maror and Korech

After the Meal

  1. Afikoman

  2. Blessing after eating: Barech

  3. Third Cup of Wine

  4. Elijah’s Cup and opening the door

  5. Fourth Cup of Wine

  6. Seder Songs traditional and new

  7. Next Year in Jerusalem: La-Shana Haba-a

TRADITIONAL JEWISH LAW: Legal Minimums of the Seder
The following is taken from A Different Night, pp. 22-23 written by Noam Zion and David Dishon and published by The Shalom Hartman Institute: “Reading every paragraph of the traditional Haggadah is not legally obligatory. . . . The halachic minimum suggested below is an invitation to add more, not to shorten the Seder. . . . In case of doubt consult your rabbi. As we all know there are many views in Jewish law. . . . We are grateful to Rabbi Yaacov Warhaftig, director of the Ariel Institute, Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem, who gave us his advice and approval for this section.”

  1. Candle-lighting

  2. Optional: reading/chanting of poem Kadesh Urchatz

  3. Kiddush and She-he-chee-yanu

  4. Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz

  5. Ha Lachma Anya

  6. Shmuel’s story:Avadeem Hayeenu

  7. Optional: rabbis of B’nei Brak and Ben Zoma

  8. Optional: but very important: the Midrash of the Four Children

  9. Rav’s Story: Mee-Tchee-law, “Our Ancestors Were Idol Worshippers”

  10. Optional but customary: V’hee She-amda

  11. Arami Oved Avi: The obligation is to read and comment on this entire section from Deuteronomy 26; but if the group has a creative discussion on these verses rather than reading the entire midrash word for word, this may be a wholly appropriate fulfillment of the mitzvah.

  12. Optional: Midrash on the 50, 200, 250 plagues

  13. Optional and very traditional: Da-yeinu

  14. Rabban Gamliel: Pesach, Matza, Maror

  15. “In Every Generation” B’Chol Dor Va’Dor

  16. Hallel, Psalms 113-114

  17. Second Cup of Wine

  18. Washing Hands and eating Matza with Maror, and then Korech

  19. Meal

  20. Afikoman

  21. Birkat Ha-Mazone, “Grace After Meals”

  22. Third Cup of Wine

  23. Sh’foch Cha-mat-cha

  24. Hallel and its Blessings

  25. Fourth Cup of Wine and the Blessings after this cup of wine

  26. Sefirat Ha-Omer is obligatory on the Second Seder Night

  27. Optional but customary: Seder poems and songs

  28. Optional but customary: Nirtza and “Next Year in Jerusalem”


DO start your preparations early enough. Make sure your house is sparkling clean, and your table as beautiful as possible. Invite as a guest someone who is far from his own home.
DO have uniform Haggadot with good translations and perhaps transliteration for everyone at the table, in order that all can participate in the Seder without difficulty. These Haggadot are in addition to the decorative ones, or ones of special historical interest. Select, in advance, sections of the haggadot to be assigned for individual reading in English by those who may not be able to follow the Hebrew. Rehearse MAH NISHTANAH with the child who will ask the Four Questions, and also for other special parts given to individuals.
DO plan different wines, especially Israeli wines for the four cups. You may want to place a saucer under each wine cup to prevent excessive stains on the tablecloth. Arrange a cushion or pillow for the master of the house to recline on during the meal in the style of the "freemen" in ancient times. Remember to arrange for different red and white grape juices, including Israeli juices, for the children and those who do not drink wine.
DO remember to provide an appropriate small reward for the child who finds the AFIKOMAN. During the Seder the father hides a part of the middle matzah to be distributed and eaten later by all present. Toward the end of the meal, the father pretends not to notice that the children hid it. He offers a reward for its return, since the meal cannot be properly concluded until each person has tasted a piece of the AFIKOMAN. In some homes, the father will hide the AFIKOMAN and after the meal, they will search for it; in some homes, they are instructed "hot and cold."
DO suggest that one of the children prepare a talk for the Seder on freedom in modern times.
DON'T rush through the Seder; it is time that is being invested in your family and a family tradition for future generations. Plan ahead for the meal such that you have time for the traditional family songs and hymns at the end of the Seder.
DO use an attractive, different "Pesachdik" set of dishes which are used annually only for the holiday; they add to Seder beauty and dignity. Invest in different Passover plates, Matzah covers, Elijah cups, bowls for washing and similar ritual items that become family heirlooms.


1. GAMES (Nuts and nut games are popular for Passover, for two reasons: firstly, nuts within the shell are available in abundance for little cost and are kosher for Passover; secondly, "nut" in Hebrew has the same numerical value as the word "good" in Hebrew, both are 17.)
Nut Ferry

Carry nuts on the blade of a dull knife as relay teams with a time limit.

Nut Roll

Make a board lean against a wall and attempt to "win" a nut by tossing against the board and having the tossed nut roll down and hit a target nut.

Nut Pick-Up

Using two pencils, determine who can pick up the most nuts in a time limit to be placed in each team's bowl.

Nut pitching

Each team attempts to throw nuts into a target basket or pot within time.

Guessing Game

Let a player put nuts under plates for other players out of the room who will return at a signal and indicate which plate they wish. Leader may choose to put different numbers of nuts or the same number under each plate.

Scrambled Pesach Story

Cut up the story of Passover and distribute parts without numbering sequence. The leader begins and each participant starts reading when he believes that his portion is appropriate.

Questions and Prizes

Plan on asking questions throughout the Seder for which winners receive nuts, and at the end of the Seder then the prizes can be given out to all of the children based upon the number of nuts they have collected – and their appropriate age and needs.

Costumes are a wonderful way in which children can be kept involved in the Seder. They can dress up as guests and come in through the door for “Ha Lachma Anya” and even be dressed up as Jewish historical guests – but remember to save Elijah the Prophet for opening the door after the meal.
Children can distribute symbols of each of the 10 plagues: ping pong balls for everyone to throw at the mention of “hail” or sunglasses to symbolize darkness. While there are commercial “Plague Sacks” which have symbols for each of the plagues, you should consider planning with the kids for their own interpretations.


1. What are the other names of Passover?

2. How long is this holiday?

3. What are the Hebrew dates?

4. What does this phrase refer to: The Intermediate Days?

5. What is the name of the Sabbath preceding Passover?

6. Which name is out of place? Pharaoh, Aaron, Miriam, Moses?

7. Who was Zipporah?

8. What doesn't belong? Frogs, lice, ants, locusts?

9. What was the tenth plague?

10. Name three songs sung during the Seder?

11. What does Haggadah refer to, and what does the word mean?

12. Who is the Fourth Son?

13. What word is out of place? Shankbone, bitter herbs, cheese, salt water.

14. Complete this phrase: "On all other nights we don't dip"

15. Why are four cups of wine poured during the Seder?


1. Z'man Herutenu - Season of our Freedom, and Hag HaMatzot - Festival of the Spring.

2. Passover is celebrated for 8 days; in Israel 7 days.

3. Nisan 15-22.

  1. The Hol Hamoed or the Intermediate Days refers to the period of time between the first two days of Passover and the last two. They are regarded as semi-holidays.

  2. Shabbat HaGadol. "The Great Sabbath". The name probably refers to the phrase, "the great day of the Lord" which occurs in Malachi 3-23 and is read as part of the Haftarah. (Prophetic Reading) that Sabbath morning.

6. Pharaoh is the name out of place. Aaron and Miriam were brother and sister to Moses.

7. Zipporah was Moses' wife.

8. "Ants" does not belong in this list as frogs, lice and locusts were three of the Plagues God sent upon the Egyptians corresponding to the deeds they had perpetrated against the children of Israel.

9. The Tenth Plague was the slaying of the first born sons of the Egyptians.

10. Dayenu, Chad Gadya, Ehad Mi Yodea, Addir Hu.

11. Haggadah meaning "the telling" refers to the book which tells the story of Passover and describes the Seder.

12. The Fourth Son is the "one who does not know enough even to ask".

13. "Cheese" is out of place; the other items refer to symbols used during the Seder.

14. "On all other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice."

15. To symbolize the four expressions of liberation which the Bible uses. (Exodus 6:6).



1. Three Matzot placed separately in the sections of the special matzah cover, or in the folds of an ordinary napkin: Two of these symbolize the two loaves of bread over which a benediction is pronounced on Sabbaths and festivals. The third matzah emphasizes the unique role of the matzah in the Pesach ritual. The matzah is a symbol of the affliction of slaves in Egypt and a reminder of the haste of departure. An allegorical explanation teaches that the three matzot represent the three groups into which Judaism is divided: Kohen, Levi, Yisrael; if we are ever to survive, we must always be united. At many Sedarim, we add supplementary symbolic matzot for different oppressed Jewish communities and individuals to be remembered at Passover when we celebrate our freedom and they are still denied their freedom. You should also discuss non-Jewish communities and individuals who still await their own physical, spiritual and political freedom.
2. A Roasted Shankbone (Zeroah) commemorates the paschal sacrifice which our ancestors brought to the Temple on Pesach in ancient times. Vegetarians often substitute a beet (with its red juices) rather than use real bones.
3. Bitter Herbs (Maror) symbolize the bitterness of Israel's bondage in Egypt. Horseradish is usually used or a bitter lettuce.
4. A Roasted Egg (Beitzah) symbolizes the HAGGIGAH or "Festival sacrifice" which was always brought to the Temple in Jerusalem on festive occasions and which on Pesach supplemented the paschal lamb.
5. Charoset symbolizes the mortar the Israelites used building the "treasure cities for Pharaoh". Charoset is a mixture of grated apples, chopped nuts, cinnamon and a little wine, and there are many different recipes reflecting different places and cultures where Jews have celebrated Passover.
6. Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress (Karpas), or any other green herb and a dish of salt water into which it is to be dipped before being eaten: These greens symbolize the coming of Spring and suggest the perpetual renewal of life. Hence, they represent the ever-sustaining hope of human redemption. The message to us is that we must always be optimistic.
7. Four Cups of Wine to be offered during the Seder service: one at Kiddush, one following the recital of the first part of the Hallel, one after Grace and one at the conclusion of the Seder. These four cups symbolize the four-fold promise of redemption which, according to the Bible, God pledged to Israel: "I will bring you forth," (Exodus 6:6): "I will deliver you," (ibid). "I will redeem you," (ibid) and "I will take you," (Exodus 6:7).

8. Salt Water: used as a simple spice for vegetables (karpas). Some say it represents tears shed in Egypt, and others suggest that it reminds us of the Red Sea through which God led the Israelites. It may also represent the tears shed by God when He had no choice but to punish the Egyptians for their oppression of the Israelites.
9. Cup of Elijah (Kos Eliyahu): Elijah has always been associated with the coming of the Messiah. Pesach, the holiday of freedom, is an ideal time to usher in the messianic age, and so we invite Elijah to be present with us. Also, in Exodus 6:8 the Bible states, "I will bring you to the land..." Throughout the ages the Jews looked forward to this promised return to the Holy Land. In Jewish literature, Elijah was always a protective presence when a community or individual was threatened; and his presence at the Seder was very welcome throughout Jewish history in Europe when this was an especially dangerous season for Jews.


The hand washing is to cleanse the fingertips before handling the vegetables and has no symbolic ritual meaning. Today, it is done merely to elicit questions from the children at the Seder.


It is a piece of the middle matzah set aside at the beginning of the seder (yachatz) as a substitute for the Paschal lamb and eaten at the conclusion of the meal. It is hidden during the seder to keep the children awake and interested during the middle of the seder.


The spoken language, at the time it was written, was Aramaic. Aramaic was used Since an invitation has to be extended in a language understood by all; today we use English.


We dip parsley in salt water because it reminds us of the green that comes to live again in the springtime. We dip the maror, or bitter herbs, in the sweet charoset as a sign of hope. Our ancestors were able to withstand the bitterness of slavery because it was sweetened by the hope of freedom.


Because reclining at the table was a sign of a free man in olden times. Since our ancestors were freed on this night, we recline at the table.


The Rabbis found in the Torah, four different versions of the command that the father tell the story of the Exodus to his child, deducing four different kinds of children.

A Mystical Understanding of the Four Children of the Seder
Consider the parallel between the “four children” and the “four” who entered PARDES from the Talmud:

The wise child: Rabbi Akiva who knows the difference between water and water, -- between the upper spirituality and lower spirituality.

The wayward/other one: Acher (Elisha) who sees in the pardes a failure of absolute justice in the world, doubts and turns to his own path.

The simple one: Ben Zoma who encounters the Divine mystically literally and becomes psychologically damaged

The one who could not ask any questions: Ben Azai dies from the experience and hence can not speak.


We recite Hallel because of our awareness that the freedom is given by God, and we relate our exodus from Egypt to God's power. Therefore, we praise Him with traditional psalms of praise.


Even though the Egyptians persecuted us, we still feel sorry that they suffered so much through the plagues. We, therefore, diminish our joy by pouring out the wine.


This is a usual ritual washing which is done at any meal where bread or matzah is eaten prior to the blessing over the bread. The table is regarded as an altar where proper conversation and decorum is maintained. Just as the priest in the past washed his hands in preparation to approaching the altar, so do we.


One is the usual blessing for bread (matzah is bread which has not risen). The other blessing is specifically for the matzah which is eaten on Pesach Eve.


We do it out of respect for the great scholar Hillel whose custom was to eat the maror with matzah. Since we recited the blessing already, we only mention why we are eating the sandwich.


The kid, cat, dog, etc., each devouring the other have represented the mighty empires of the past, each one defeating the succeeding ones until God puts a final end to their power. Many of the popular Seder songs have various attributed meanings, although in truth we don't often really know what their authors intended.


They symbolize the festival sacrifice. Some point out that the longer the egg is boiled, the harder it becomes, paralleling the ability of the Jewish People to become increasingly strong in the face of increasing oppression. Others suggest that since an elegant Hellenistic meal might begin with an egg, so then did the Seder meal that imitated a luxurious dining style of that period for free people.


"Next year in Jerusalem." This wish has always been associated with a future of perfect peace. To the Jew today it also expresses his close ties with Israel and his desire to visit Israel soon.



Before sunset, the mother is given the privilege to usher in the festival by lighting the candles and reciting the following blessing: "Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam Asher Kidshanu B'Mitzvotav V'tzivanu lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov."

I. Kiddush. On Friday evening add first portion (biblical selection on the Sabbath). On Saturday evening, add Havdalah section separating sanctity of Sabbath from Sanctity of holy day.
II. Lave. Washing preparation for eating vegetable entree (Karpas). Since the need for such washing was questioned, no blessing is required. It is good to go around to each of the participants, pouring water over the hands from a pitcher into a bowl.
III. Karpas. Any vegetable that is not bitter may be eaten. Among vegetables used are celery, parsley, onion and potato. Dipped in salt water for purification and seasoning they remind us of the vegetation of Spring - or the baby boys cast in the Nile - or the tears shed by the slaves. The blessing said is the usual benediction of thanks before eating any vegetable.
IV. Divide middle Matzah into two parts. Take larger part, wrap it in napkin and save for the conclusion of the meal. Try - but don't try too hard -to keep it from being stolen by the children because it must be available for the end of the meal.
V. Narrate
1. Lift up the plate with the symbols of affliction. The traditional invitation to the stranger to join the Seder is offered.
2. The wine cups are refilled.
3. The Four “Questions.”
4. The Response to the “Questions.” Read portions in unison. Have other portions recited by different individuals at the table.
(a) The Four Sons. Play up this part. Discuss different types of reactions to Judaism.
(b) Since the cup of wine represents the "cup of salvation", it is lifted when we recall God's promise to Abraham, emphasizing His eternal watchfulness.
(c) Note how the biblical verses (Deuteronomy 26: 5-8) are elaborated upon, phrase by phrase.
(d) The Ten Plagues. Since our "cup of salvation" cannot be regarded as full when we recall the suffering of the Egyptians, a drop of wine is removed from the cup with the mention of each plague.

(e) Dayenu - Let all present join in the refrain.

(f) The explanations of the three principal symbols: the lamb bone, the matzah and the bitter herbs. Highlight this section at your Seder.
5. The cup is again lifted in joy, thankful for God's deliverance, ready to praise Him with the first word of the Psalm of praise (Hallel).
6. Two psalms of the Hallel.
7. Drink the wine, with the blessing of salvation.
VI. Lave. Ready to eat, the hands are washed before the meal, as is required at any meal similar to the previous hand-washing. Now, though, all wash with the usual benediction as the hands are dried.
VII. Motzi - Matzah. The first food at the meal is, as usual, bread (naturally, however, this bread - the matzah - is unleavened bread). The usual berakha - the motzi - is recited. However, before eating the matzah, a second berakha, thanking God for the requirement to eat matzah, is recited.
VIII. Herbs. Small pieces of horse-radish are dipped into the charoset (symbolic of mortar) to indicate that over emphasis on material things results in bitterness. Before eating it, a berakha thanking God for this requirement is recited. Some people mix the ground horse-radish with charoset, combining this with "IX,"
IX. Hillel Sandwich. In ancient times, Hillel ate the three symbolic foods (lamb, matzah and bitter herbs) together so that each mouthful contained all three. Thus the symbols of slavery and of liberation were intermingled. Now that we do not have the Paschal lamb, we eat just the matzah and horse-radish in a "Hillel sandwich". No special berakha is said, but we do read the words recalling Hillel's practice.
X. Meal. The joyous feasting gives us the feeling of human fellowship in harmony with God.
XI. Dessert. Now the afikoman. Either someone has “stolen” it, or parents can hide the afikoman when it is first put aside (IV) and let the children look for it during the meal to win a prize.
XII. Birkat Ha-Mazon. This is the usual "bentschen," grace after meals, including, of course, thankfulness for the Passover holiday. Fill the cup before this grace and drink the third cup at its conclusion, with the usual "bore p'ri hagafen."
At this point in the Seder, we Open the Door For Elijah, who by tradition is the forerunner of the Messiah, the harbinger of hope. Sing "Eliyahu Ha-navi."
XIII. Hallelujah. The rest of the evening is given over to hymns and songs. The Hallel is completed, and all join in singing songs: Adir Hu, Had Gadya, etc.
XIV. Chasal Seder. With the traditional formula, the Seder is concluded, and the we sing L'Shana HaBa'ah B'Y'rushalayim.

(Note that some of the supplementary Seder Readings are from a few years ago and we can see how the political and religious conditions for the Jews and for others who are oppressed have changed so quickly in our world. Discuss with the Seder participants how relevant each of these readings still is today and why each is or is not still necessary.)


(To be recited after "HA LACHMA ANYA," "This is the bread of affliction" at the beginning of the Seder)
Behold this matzah, the symbol of our affliction but also of our liberty. As we look at it let us remember our brethren everywhere who are in distress. On this festival of our freedom, may our hearts be turned to our brothers and sisters in Russia and in Arab lands who are not able to celebrate this Passover in the traditional, reclining attitude of free men. Rock of Israel, hasten the day when all of our brethren will know true freedom and in consort with the whole house of Israel give thanks to Thee for Thy wondrous deeds and Thy redemption. And may the redeemer come unto Zion. Amen.


(The following reading has been prepared by "MAZON: a Jewish response to hunger" to be read at "HA LACHMA ANYA":)
"The words are a pledge, and the pledge is a privilege. Surrounded by the hungry and the homeless, we can redeem the pledge. This evening, so that the hungry may eat, we contribute to Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger, and we say, together:

Barukh eloheinu sheb'tuvo he'vianu v'zikanu l'mitzvat matan mazon.

Blessed is our God through whose goodness we have been brought to the privilege of sharing our bread."

(A fourth Matzah is added to the traditional three on the main Seder place and the following prayer is recited after "HA LACHMA ANYA" at the beginning of the Seder).
This Is The Matzah of Hope: This matzah, which we set aside as a symbol of hope, for the three million Jews of the Soviet Union, reminds us of the indestructible link that exists between us. As we observe this festival of freedom, we know that Soviet Jews are not free to learn of their Jewish past, to hand it down to their children. They cannot learn the languages of their fathers. They cannot teach their children to be the teachers, the rabbis of future generations.

They can only sit in silence and become invisible. We shall be their voice, and our voices shall be joined by thousands of men of conscience aroused by the wrongs suffered by Soviet Jews. Then shall they know that they have not been forgotten and they that sit in darkness shall yet see a great light.


(Some add a fourth additional symbolic matzah to the traditional three covered matzot in order to remember oppressed Ethiopian Jewry, Jewry of Arab lands and Soviet Jewry still waiting to be redeemed. We then read:)
It has become customary at the Seder to set aside a few minutes for Jews in other lands, especially the Soviet Union and those in Arab lands, who are not free to celebrate Passover. We also remember another group of our brothers and sisters, perhaps less familiar to us, but living in even more dire circumstances. These are the Ethiopian Jews or "Falashas" as they were called by the Ethiopians. Even their name, “Falasha,” means stranger, though this group of Jews has been living in Ethiopia at least since the time of the Second Temple. They call themselves instead "Beta Yisrael," "The House of Israel."
Though their origins may be mysterious, their current problems are not. Once a proud and prosperous community of 500,000, their numbers have dwindled in recent years due to poverty, disease, drought, civil war and missionary efforts. Today, while most have been resettled in Israel for which they hoped, some still remain in Ethiopia. Their only desire is to be able to return to the land of their ancestors, Israel.

(We celebrate the successful ingathering of Ethiopian Jews in the State of Israel for which they prayed and waited for so many years. We shall not forget their oppression and the modern miracle of their redemption even as they are rapidly becoming mainstream Israelis. We also want to preserve their heritage of values and liturgy.)
Do not separate me, O Lord, from the chosen

From the joy, from the light, from the splendor,

Let me see, O Lord, the light of Israel,

And let me listen to the words of the just

While they speak about the Law.

To teach fear of Thee, O Lord, King forever.

Thou are blessed, O Lord, be merciful to me.

By day be Thou my shepherd, and my guardian at night.

When I walk be my guide, when I sit be my guardian.

When I call Thee, keep Thou not silent.

I love Thee, hate me not;

I have confidence in Thee,

Abandon me not.


(From United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism collected materials by Rabbi Moshe Edelman)

All three Pilgrim festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Succot) contain elements which make of them complete joyous occasions. However, it is Pesach, more than the others, which combines all elements into a most harmonious and soul-satisfying whole.
Pesach is a festival of the head. It calls upon the Jew to meditate on the ideal of freedom. It transports you back in history to the period of bondage in Egypt and it asks that you put yourself in the place of your ancestors who were released from Pharaoh’s yoke. It is not enough to regard the Exodus as history. “In every generation a person is obliged to regard oneself as if you had left the land of Egypt. To translate Pesach into contemporary terms is one of the elements of the festival.
Pesach is a festival of the heart. It calls upon us to rejoice, to feel the presence of God as the source of human happiness. The Seder, with its song and rites, with the objects to delight children and the ease to relax adults, join in producing a feeling of well-being. The observance of Pesach is not a solemn ceremony but a delightful celebration.
Pesach is a festival of hand. Before it arrives, the Jew is asked to give what is called “Maot Chittim,” money to provide for those in need of Matzot and other food for the festival. When the holiday actually arrives, we usher it in, at the very outset, by saying “Let all who are hungry come and eat with us.” The spirit of hospitality dominates the festival, and the concern if the Jews is turned to our fellow man. But it is not a vague feeling of sympathy and concern of others which fills us. It is the act of giving, of extending one’s hand to the needy that is an essential element of our celebration. For a least one week of the year, we remove the leaven of selfishness from our lives and we want to share life’s blessing with others.
Pesach is the festival of the head, the heart and the hand - an ideal combination for producing the wholeness, the integration, which religion should bring.

On this night, we remember a fifth child.

This is a child of the Shoah (Holocaust), who did not survive to ask.

Therefore, we ask for that child -- Why?
We are like the simple child. We have no answer.

We can only follow the footsteps of Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, who could not bring himself to mention the Exodus at night until Ben Zoma explained it to him through the verse: In order that you REMEMBER the day of your going out from Egypt, all the days of your life. (Deut. 16.3)

We answer that child’s question with silence. In silence, we remember that dark time. In silence, we remember that Jews preserved their image of God in the struggle for life. In silence, we remember the seder nights spent in the forests, ghettos, and camps; we remember that seder night when the Warsaw Ghetto rose in revolt.

(To be recited after opening the door for Elijah)

On this night of the Seder we remember with reverence and love the six million of our people of the European exile who perished at the hand of a tyrant more wicked that Pharaoh who enslaved our fathers in Egypt. Come, said he to his minions, let us cut them off from being a people, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more. And they slew the blameless and pure, men and women and little ones, with vapors of poison and burned them with fire. But we abstain from dwelling the deeds of evil ones lest we defame the image of God in which man was created.

Now, the remnants of our people who were left in the ghettos and camps of annihilation rose up against the wicked ones for the sanctification of the Name and slew many of them before they died. On the first day of Passover the remnants in the Ghetto for Warsaw rose up against the adversary, even as in the days of Judah the Maccabee. They were lovely and pleasant in the lives and in their death they were not divided. They brought redemption to the name of Israel throughout all the world.

And from the depths of their affliction the martyrs lifted their voices in a song of faith in the coming of the Messiah, when justice and brotherhood will reign among men.

"Ani ma-amin be-emuna sh'layma b'viat ha-mashiach;

V'afal pee she-yit-may-mayah im kol ze ani ma-amin."
(I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah;

and, though he tarry, none the less I believe.")


(To be recited after drinking the fourth cup of wine at the conclusion of the Seder.)
We read in the Talmud: These four cups correspond to the four expressions of redemption which the Torah uses in relating the events of Egypt: Vehotzeti and I shall bring forth: Vehitzalti and I shall save; Vegaalti and I shall redeem: Valakahti and I shall take. Rabbi Tarphon would add a fifth cup to correspond to Veheveti and I shall bring.

And now, in our own time, when we have been privileged to behold the mercies of the Holy One, blessed is He and His salvation over us; in the establishment of the State of Israel which is the beginning of redemption and salvation, as it is written: "And I shall bring you into the land which I swore to give unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob and I have given it unto you as an inheritance; I am the Lord! it is fitting and proper that we observe this pious act, the drinking of the fifth cup as a form of thanksgiving.

We give thanks unto the Eternal for the wartime miracles and wonders He wrought for us. The mercies of the Eternal stood us in good stead in time of dire peril, when seven nations united to destroy and annihilate the Jewish state at the very time of its birth and yet once again they pledge do annihilate the land and its people and plunge it into rivers of blood and fire. The Eternal, in His loving kindness, frustrated the designs of our enemies and vouchsafed victory unto us bringing us again to Jerusalem in joy.

(Using the little finger, remove a drop of wine and touch it to a saucer or napkin for each plague.)
As we prepare to spill wine from our cup at the mention of each plague, we recall the sentence of the Bible, "Rejoice not when your enemy falls". Our Rabbis taught that when the children of Israel sang songs of praise to God as the Egyptians drowned in the sea, the angels on high wished to join in these songs and were stopped by God who said, "These are my creatures who are drowning in the sea! For this you would sing songs of praise?". Thus we too lessen our joy at Passover time at the mention of these plagues, for there can be no rejoicing at the death or suffering of human beings, even our enemies. And so we diminish this cup of joy, for our redemption had to come through the destruction of others.

(To be recited when describing the Matzah and the Seder Plate.)
The Jewish prisoners in the German concentration camp at Bergen Belsen did not have matzah for the observance of Pesach in 1944. Under the circumstances the sages at the camp permitted the eating of leavened bread for which occasion this benediction was composed:

Our Father in heaven, behold it is evident and known to three that it is our desire to do they will and to celebrate the festival of Pesach by eating matzah and by observing the prohibition of leavened food. But our heart is pained that the enslavement prevents us and we are in danger of our lives. Behold, we are prepared and ready to fulfill they commandment; "And ye shall live by them and not die by them".

We pray to thee that thou mayest keep us alive and preserve us and redeem us speedily so that we may observe thy statutes and do thy will and serve thee with a perfect heart. Amen.

(Before reciting the blessing for Maror, the leader holds up the Maror and recites this statement together with the Seder participants.)
The Maror represents bitterness. Lest we become complacent let us remember on this Seder night that millions of our people still taste the maror of servitude. Cruel tyrants refuse to permit them to practice their faith or teach their children the beauty of Judaism. Strengthen them in their struggle to be free men and say again the words: "Let My People Go, that they may serve Me". On Pesach we pray that another Exodus will come to pass. May the maror, the bitterness of selfishness, give way to the sweetness of sharing. Reward our efforts, so that next year may see the emancipation of our people and the advent of a world-wide Pesach replete with justice, equality and Shalom.


(When the child finds and prepares the return of the Afikoman, the following dialogue is read. If necessary, an adult or older child may assist in reading the "child's" part.)
CHILD: (Holding the Afikoman, a child addresses the Seder leader:)

Father...(Grandfather, Mother...) I have found this half of the Matzah...the Afikoman.

LEADER: And, I have the other half. Where did you find your half of the matzah?

CHILD: I found it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

LEADER: And now, we who have enjoyed this bountiful Seder must share what you have found. We will share the Afikoman as our dessert and also remember and provide for those still in bondage.

CHILD: How much will you pay me for this dessert?

LEADER: I will pay you whatever we agree upon. And, in memory of our own escape from Egypt and to free those still in bondage in Ethiopia, we at this table will give generously to free Beta Yisrael, the Jews of Ethiopia.

(Child hands the Afikoman to the Leader.)

LEADER: As I receive this Afikoman, may it be an offering for all our people who still suffer. May this be the fulfillment of Rabbi Maimonides' conviction that the greatest of all Mitzvot is the "redemption of captives."


(When the Afikoman is found, the following is an alternative or supplementary reading on the part of all Seder participants:)
"Tonight we read together:

Lo! This is the bread of poverty that our ancestors ate.

Let all who are hungry come and eat!

Let all who are in need share in the hope of Passover!

This year we all are slaves,

Next year may we all be free.

Tonight, to redeem the Afikoman:

We renew our commitment to help all who are hungry round the world,

So that next year we may all be free."


(The following verses were written in 1988 by CLAL to continue the tradition of adding to the story of the Exodus, of making that ancient story a modern extension of our dream for a time when all of God's children will live together in peace and harmony.)
Had God upheld us throughout two thousand year of Dispersion

But not preserved our hope for return Dayenu

Had God preserved our hope for return

But not sent us leaders to make the dream a reality Dayenu

Had God sent us leaders to make the dream a reality,

But not given us success in the U.N. vote Dayenu

Had God given us success in the U.N. vote,

But not defeated our attackers in 1948 Dayenu

Had God defeated our attackers in 1948,

But not unified Jerusalem Dayenu

Had God unified Jerusalem,

But not led us toward peace with Egypt Dayenu

Had God returned us to the Land of our ancestors,

But not filled it with our children Dayenu

Had God willed it with our children,

But not caused the desert to bloom Dayenu

Had God caused the desert to bloom,

But not built for us cities and towns Dayenu

Had God rescued our remnants from the Holocaust's flames,

But not brought our brothers from Arab lands Dayenu

Had God brought our brothers from Arab lands,

But not opened the gates for Russia's Jews Dayenu

Had God opened the gate for Russia's Jews,

But not redeemed our people from Ethiopia Dayenu

Had God redeemed our people from Ethiopia,

But not planted in our hearts a covenant of One People Dayenu

Had God planted in our hearts a covenant of One People,

But not sustained in our souls a vision of a perfected world Dayenu




A Different Night: The Family Participation Haggadah, Noam Zion and David Dishon. The Shalom Hartman Institute, 5757. Leader’s Guide by Zion and Dishon also available.
Passover Haggadah: The Feast of Freedom, Ed. Rachel Anne Rabinowicz. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 1982.
The New American Haggadah : Haggadah Shel Pesah, Ed. Mordecai Menahem Kaplan, Eugene Kohn, Ira Eisenstein, Gila Gerirtz. New York: Berhman House.
A Passover Haggadah, Ed. Herbert Bronstein. Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Family Haggadah/Book and Audio Cassette, Shoshana Silberman. Kar-Ben Copies Publishers.
The Art of Jewish Living, Ron Wolfson. New York: The Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs, 1988.
The Women's Haggadah, E. M. Broner with Naomi Nimrod. San Francisco: Harper, 1994.
Passover Survival Kit, Shimon Apisdorf. Columbus: Leviathan Press, 1994.


Why On This Night? Rahel Musleah. Alladin Paperbacks, 1999.
The Story Haggadah, Sol Scharfstein. New York: KTAV, 1990.
The Ten Plagues of Egypt, Shoshana Lepon. New York: The Judaica Press, 1988.
The Santa Cruz Haggadah Kids Passover Fun Book, Karen Roekard. Berkeley: The Hineni Consciousness Press, 1994
My Very Own Haggadah, Judyth R. Saypol and Madeline Wikler, Rockville: Kar-Ben Copies, 1993.
We Tell It To Our Children, Mary Ann Barrows Wark. St. Paul: Mt. Zion Hebrew Congregation Rabbi's Publication Fund and Mensch Makers Press, 1988.
Haggadah Shel Pesach: A Singing Haggadah, Ellen M. Egger. Princeton: L'Rakia Press, 1986.
My Favorite Family Haggadah, Shari Faden Donahue. Los Angeles: MAZON, 1994.
UH! OH! Hidden Passover Objects You'll (Almost) Never Find, Janet Zwebner. Israel: Yellow Brick Road Press, 1994.

5761 Modern Passover Seder Songs

(These songs have been gathered from far and near, and they should be enjoyed and sung either at the end of the Seder. Feel free to insert them at a place that you and your Seder participants will enjoy and find meaningful.)

1. There's No Seder Like our Seder

(sung to the tune of "There's no Business like Show business")
There's no seder like our seder,

There's no seder I know.

Everything about it is halachic

Nothing that the Torah won't allow.

Listen how we read the whole Haggadah

It's all in Hebrew

'Cause we know how.
There's no Seder like our seder,

We tell a tale that is swell:

Moses took the people out into the heat

They baked the matzah

While on their feet

Now isn't that a story

That just can't be beat?

Let's go on with the show!

2. Take Us Out of Egypt

(sung to the tune of “Take me out to the ball game")

Take us out of Egypt

Free us from slavery

Bake us some matzah in a haste

Don't worry 'bout flavor--

Give no thought to taste.

Oh it's rush, rush, rush, to the Red Sea

If we don't cross it's a shame

For it's ten plagues,

Down and you're out

At the Pesach history game.

3. Les Miselijah

(to the tune of "Do you hear the people Sing" from “Les Miserables”)
Do you hear the doorbell ring,

And it's a little after ten?

It can only be Elijah

Come to take a sip again.

He is feeling pretty fine

But in his head a screw is loose.

So perhaps instead of wine

We should only give him juice.

4. Elijah

(to the tune of "Maria")

I just saw the prophet Elijah.

And suddenly that name

Will never sound the same to me.


He came to our seder


He had his cup of wine,

But could not stay to dine

This year--


For your message all Jews are waiting:

That the time's come for peace

and not hating--


Next year we'll be waiting.


5. Just a Tad of Charoset

(to the tune of "Just a spoon full of sugar")

Just a tad of charoset helps the bitter herbs go down,

The bitter herbs go down, the bitter herbs go down.

Just a tad of charoset helps the bitter herbs go down,

In the most disguising way.
Oh, back in Egypt long ago,

The Jews were slaves under Pharaoh.

They sweat and toiled and labored

through the day.

So when we gather Pesach night,

We do what we think right.

Maror, we chew,

To feel what they went through.

So after years of slavery

They saw no chance of being free.

Their suffering was the only life they knew.

But baby Moses grew up tall,

And said he'd save them all.

He did, and yet,

We swear we won't forget.


Chorus cont….
While the maror is being passed,

We all refill our water glass,

Preparing for the taste that turns us red.

Although maror seems full of minuses,

It sure does clear our sinuses.

But what's to do?

It's hard to be a Jew!!!
6. Same time next year

(to the tune of "Makin' Whoopee")
Another Pesach, another year,

The family seder with near and dear...

Our faces shining,

All thoughts of dining

Are put on hold now.

We hear four questions,

The answer given

Recalls the Jews from Egypt driven.

The ch'rain is bitter, (charoset better!)

Please pass the matzah.

Why is this evening different

From all the other nights?

This year the Jews all over

Are free to perform the rites.

A gorgeous dinner--who can deny it--

Won't make us thinner, to hell with diet!

It's such great cooking...

and no one's looking,

So just enjoy it.

Moving along at steady clip

Elijah enters, and takes a sip;

And then the singing with voices ringing

Our laughter mingling.

When singing about Chad GadYa.

Watch close or your place you'll lose,

For Echad Mi Yodea:

Which tune shall we use?

We pray next Pesach

We'll all be here.

It's a tradition...

Same time next year...

So fill it up now, the final cup now,

Next year at Nanny and Zayde's house
7. The Ballad of the Four Sons

(to the tune of "Clementine")
Said the father to his children,

"At the seder you will dine,

You will eat your fill of matzoh,

You will drink four cups of wine."

Now this father had no daughters,

But his sons they numbered four.

One was wise and one was wicked,

One was simple and a bore.

And the fourth was sweet and winsome,

he was young and he was small.

While his brothers asked the questions

he could scarcely speak at all.

Said the wise one to his father

"Would you please explain the laws?

Of the customs of the seder

Will you please explain the cause?"

And the father proudly answered,

"As our fathers ate in speed,

Ate the paschal lamb 'ere midnight

And from slavery were freed."

So we follow their example

And 'ere midnight must complete

All the seder and we should not

After 12 remain to eat.

Then did sneer the son so wicked

"What does all this mean to you?"

And the father's voice was bitter

As his grief and anger grew.

"If you yourself don't consider

As son of Israel,

Then for you this has no meaning

You could be a slave as well."

Then the simple son said simply

"What is this," and quietly

The good father told his offspring

"We were freed from slavery."

But the youngest son was silent

For he could not ask at all.

His bright eyes were bright with wonder

As his father told him all.

My dear children, heed the lesson

and remember evermore

What the father told his children

Told his sons that numbered four.

8. Pharaoh Doesn’t Pay

(To the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”)

I’ve been working on these buildings;

Pharaoh doesn’t pay.

I’ve been doing what he tells me

Like making bricks from clay.

Can’t you hear the master calling,

“Hurry up, make a brick!”

Can’t you feel the master hurt me

Until I’m feeling sick.

Oh is this a mess,

Oh is this a mess,

Oh is this a mess, for Jews, for Jews.

Oh is this a mess,

Oh is this a mess,

Oh is this a mess for Jews.

Someone’s in the palace with Pharaoh –

Someone’s in the palace we know, ow, ow, ow,

Someone’s in the palace with Pharaoh –

Does he know they treat us so?

Keep singing work, work, work all day,

Work all day and then some mo –ore,

Work, work, work all day –

Does he know they treat us so?

9. Pharaoh’s Lament

(To the tune of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”)

My river and my sun gods have always helped me rule.

Down came the plagues

And folks think I’m a fool.

Up come the slaves’ God

And tells me what to do.

I’m a roughy-toughy Pharaoh.

Why won’t my gods come through?
10. Plagues

(To the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”)

Bad things will come to Egypt, don’t you know?

Bad things will come to Egypt, don’t you know?

Bad things will come to Egypt,

Bad things will come to Egypt,

Bad things will come to Egypt, till we go
God will give you this last chance to let us go;

God will give you this last chance to let us go;

As midnight passes by –y

All your firstborn sons will die –ie;

And your people will cry out if we can’t go.

11. Our Passover Things

(To be sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from the "Sound of Music")
Cleaning and cooking and so many dishes

Out with the chametz, no pasta, no knishes

Fish that's gefilted, horseradish that stings

These are a few of our Passover things.

Matzah and karpas and chopped up charoset

Shankbones and kiddish and yiddish neuroses

Tante who kvetches and uncle who sings

These are a few of our Passover things.

Motzi and moror and trouble with Pharaohs

Famines and locusts and slaves with wheelbarrows

Matzah balls floating and eggshell that clings

These are a few of our Passover things.

When the plagues strike

When the lice bite

When we're feeling sad

We simply remember our Passover things

And then we don't feel so bad.

12. Let My People Go
When Israel was in Egypt land

Let My People go

Oppressed so hard they could not stand

Let My People go.

Go down, Moses

Way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh

To Let My People go.

13. It Made Them Mad

(To the tune of “Clementine”)
It made them mad to hear the answer

Pharaoh would not let them go.

God would help them with a signal

Mighty power God would show.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no

That was all that Pharaoh said.

With no way to beat his army,

They would change his mind instead.

Every time bad things got started

He would almost let them go;

But as soon as things got better,

He would switch and tell them NO! (shout “no!”)

When the tenth plague scared old Pharaoh,

He’d no longer let them stay.

“Get out of Egypt,” he fin’lly shouted.

“Take your stuff and go away.”

With their cattle and some matzah

Jews were fin’lly on their way.

Through the Red Sear and hot Sinai

To their own God they could pray.

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