What's in a Haggadah

The Haggadah is the book of stories, prayers and rituals that is read at the Passover Seder. Each seder has 15 steps. Even if you're doing a short seder, you can cover the basics with the following:

Introduction: Review with participants the order of the Seder by listing all of the sections. Take this opportunity to welcome all guests to the Seder and focus everyone’s attention on the theme of the evening, which is traditionally ‘freedom.’ It’s also a good time to thank those who helped to prepare the meal or do some icebreakers!

Kadesh: [Blessing] Drink the  first cup of wine  while reclining in a comfortable position.

Urchatz: Hand washing (without blessing); it is customary to do this before dipping food.

Karpas: [Blessing] Greens dipped in salt water; the greens symbolize Spring and the salt water reminds us of the tears of our ancestors who endured slavery.

Yachatz: There are  three  ritual matzot on the table. Break the middle matzah and one half becomes the afikomen  (which is then hidden to be found later in the seder).

Maggid: This section includes the main part of the seder and is comprised of the following sections.  

-- Introduce the Passover story and recite or sing Ha-Lachma Anya (This is the bread of affliction) &  Avadim Hayinu, (We were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt, and now we are free.) 

-- Four Questions; or Ma Nishtana, traditionally recited by the youngest child at the table

-- Four Children; commentary on the four types of approaches to the questions

-- Telling of the Exodus story including our ancestors slavery in Egypt

-- Ten Plagues; a highlighted part of the Exodus story

-- Drink the  second cup of wine  and sing Dayeinu

Rachtzah: [Blessing] Hand washing before the meal, this time with the traditional blessing.

Motzi-Matzah: [Blessing] Matzah is shared and eaten (traditionally this is taken from the top and remaining half of the middle of the ritual matzot).

Maror: [Blessing] Horseradish (bitter herb) is eaten.

Korech: “Hillel Sandwich” is eaten; a bite made with matzah, maror, and charoset.    

Shulchan Orech: Haggadaot are put aside while eating the festive meal!

Tzafun: The hidden  afikomen  (taken from the broken matzah at the beginning of the seder) must be found (or ransomed), then shared and eaten; this is traditionally the last thing eaten for the remainder of the night.

BarechBirkat Hamazon, grace after meals, is recited and includes the  third cup of wine.

Hallel: Includes psalms to be sung, the  fourth cup of wine , and the filling Elijah’s cup and Miriam's Cup.

Nirtzah: This concludes the Seder with songs and wishes for next year (in Jerusalem!).