"The Seder: You're Up To It!"

Haggadah Section: Introduction

Like many American Jews who want to participate in the most popular Jewish festival celebrated in the home, you may have expressed your desire to assemble the family and conduct a Seder. If you, like many others, are the victim of an over-romanticized recollection of a parent or grandparent's "traditional" Seder, you may feel inadequate to the task, unable to fulfill this noble intention.

You must begin with the recognition that contemporary needs and the diverse backgrounds of those gathered at the festival table necessitate a Seder that is rooted in the past and yet meaningful to all assembled. The secret ingredient of a meaningful Seder is in the planning. It is, therefore, crucial that you prepare all the elements of the Seder in advance, from the proper placement of the ritual objects on the table to a decision as to who will read which prayers.

In reality, there is no "traditional" Haggadah. There are more than 3,000 separate editions of the Haggadah. The first printed edition did not appear until 1498 and a Latin translation, published for the benefit of the church fathers, was completed in 1512.

The Mitzvah of the "Seder night" is derived from the Bible. "And you shall explain it to your child on that day, it is because of what the Eternal did for me when I went free from Egypt." The minimum requirement of the Seder is to tell the story of the Exodus in a language the listener will understand. To ignore this commandment is to abandon the Mitzvah. This means we must tell the story in a language that will be understood by adults and in a manner comprehensible to children. Because there is no "holiness" attached to the Haggadah, each community in every generation, was left to its own devices.

In the Sephardic Seder, Maror is romaine lettuce, not horseradish; Z'roa is usually a roasted chicken wing; Haroset is made from apples, nuts, dates, figs, black raisins, and wine. It is spreadable like jelly; the order and wording of the Mah Nishtanah is different; there is no hiding of the Afikoman, no Elihjah's cup or even opening the door for Elijah; in many homes (in the Balkans and Turkey), the first Seder is chanted in unison in Hebrew, the second night, in Ladion; and so on and so on.

So, those whose family needs dictate an abbreviation of the Haggadah should feel no reluctance to do so. You may wish to include in your Seder Ritual contemporary references to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights struggle here and abroad, the plight of oppressed Jewish communities, and the State of Israel. Do it!

Above all, the story of Passover is a story of hope for a better world. As the spring renews our hope in nature and our view of the world brightens after a long and cold winter, so Passover instills within us the hope for a time when slavery, poverty, starvation, and all the ills that afflict humanity will disappear. Recalling our bondage in Egypt, we give thanks that we now enjoy the blessing of freedom. We pray for the day when people of all faiths will be able to celebrate the blessing of freedom in a time of universal peace that will embrace the entire world.

My best wishes for an enjoyable Seder and a Kosher and sweet Passover.

Rabbi Barry Friedman

Temple B'nai Abraham, Viewpoint April 1997

Inspired to create
your own Haggadah?

Make your own Haggadah and share with other Seder lovers around the world

Have an idea
for a clip?

People like you bring their creativity to Haggadot.com when they share their ideas in a clip

Support Us
with your donation

Help us build moments of meaning and connection through
home-based Jewish rituals.


Esther Kustanowitz
4 Haggadahs38 Clips
contributor image
JQ International
1 Haggadah40 Clips
contributor image
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
5 Haggadahs109 Clips
contributor image
1 Haggadah13 Clips
contributor image
1 Haggadah78 Clips
contributor image
Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
1 Haggadah36 Clips
contributor image
American Jewish World Service
1 Haggadah44 Clips
contributor image
3 Haggadahs57 Clips
contributor image
Repair the World
12 Clips
contributor image
5 Haggadahs48 Clips
contributor image
Be'chol Lashon
2 Haggadahs27 Clips
contributor image
PJ Library
1 Haggadah17 Clips
contributor image
Jewish World Watch
3 Haggadahs42 Clips
contributor image
Secular Synagogue
10 Clips
contributor image
1 Haggadah9 Clips
contributor image
The Blue Dove Foundation
12 Clips
contributor image
24 Clips
contributor image
Jewish Emergent Network
1 Haggadah22 Clips

Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
know more about the holiday? Explore our Passover 101 Guide for answers
to all of your questions.


Haggadot.com by Recustom, is a free resource for all backgrounds and experiences. Consider making a donation to help support the continuation of this free platform.

Copyright © 2024 Custom and Craft Jewish Rituals Inc, dba Recustom, dba Haggadot.com.
All Rights Reserved. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. EIN: 82-4765805.