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Want to wish your friends and family a Happy Passover this year? Try one of these!
(Yiddish; “Good holiday”)
(Hebrew; “Happy Holiday”)
(Hebrew; “Happy Passover”)
Chag kasher v’sameach
(Hebrew; “Have a kosher and happy Passover”)
Kasher un Frielichen Pesach
(Yiddish; “Have a kosher and happy Passover”)
LEADER: We are about to begin the recitation of the ancient story of Israel's redemption from bondage in Egypt. The purpose of this Seder is to afford us the opportunity to recall the dramatic and miraculous events which led to the exodus from an ancient land of slavery. Young and old should gather on the eve of Passover, in order that we might relate to the children, and to all, this thrilling chapter in the history of our people.
LEADER: (Points to Seder Plate) We have before us the Seder Plate. On it we have placed the main symbols of this service.
PARTICIPANT: First, we have three matzot (מצה), commemorating the bread which our forefathers were compelled to eat during their hasty departure from Egypt. We use three matzot to represent the three religious groupings of the Jewish people: Kohen, Levi and Yisroayl. They are placed together to indicate the unity of the Jewish people. In unity, we find our strength and power to survive.
PARTICIPANT: The Roasted Shankbone, called zeroah (זרוֹע). While it does not play an active role in the service, it reminds us of the Paschal Lamb, a special animal sacrifice which our ancestors offered on the altar of the Great Temple in Jerusalem on the Passover. Alternatively, for the vegetarians, a beet may be used. It reminds us of the blood used to mark the doorposts so that the Angel of Death passed over the Israelites' homes on their final night in Egypt.
PARTICIPANT: The Roasted Egg, (ביצה) reminds us of the second offering brought to the Temple on Passover. It was known as the "Festival Offering," for it was brought on each of the three festivals - Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. The roundness of the egg also represents the cycle of life — even in the most painful of times, there is always hope for a new beginning.
PARTICIPANT: The Marror (מָרוֹר), the bitter herbs, reminds us of the bitterness of slavery, which our ancestors were compelled to endure. We force ourselves to taste pain so that we more readily value pleasure. Scholars inform us that our ancestors ate bitter herbs at the time of the spring festival. The sharpness of the taste reawakened their senses and made them feel as one with the revival of nature. Marror is the stimulus of life reminding us that struggle is better than boredom.
PARTICIPANT: The Charoset (חֲרֽוֹסֶת), is made to resemble the mortar with which our forefathers made bricks for the building of Egyptian cities. The sweetness summons us never to forget the sweet taste of freedom. As we call to mind the sweetness in the shadow of bitterness, and pleasure in the shadow of pain, may we become more aware of the experience of opposites during our lifetime. Let us appreciate that life is full only when we experience the full range of human emotion.
PARTICIPANT: The Karpas (כַּרְפַּס), a green vegetable, is used to remind us that Pesach coincides with the arrival of Spring and the gathering of the Spring harvest. In ancient times, Passover was also an agricultural festival and an occasion on which our ancestors gave thanks for the Earth's rich bounties.
PARTICIPANT: Four times, at least, in the course of this Seder, we shall partake of the wine, a symbol of joy and thanksgiving. The four cups represent the four-fold promise to the Israelites in Egypt: "I will bring you forth;" "I will deliver you;" "I will redeem you;" "I will take you."
LEADER: These are the symbols of Passover — echoes of the past and reminders for the present. As we partake of them, may we remember the events that they recall, and may we embody their spirit in our present-day endeavors.
LEADER: We shall now sanctify the holiday with the recitation of the Kiddush. Let us rise
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,
she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
We praise God, Ruler of the Universe,
who has kept us alive, raised us up, and enabled us to reach this season.
Drink the first glass of wine!
LEADER: Let us be seated
LEADER: The second ceremony of the seder is known as Urchatz, "Washing of the Hands." If there's one thing we've learned from the pandemic, it's how to wash our hands.
PARTICIPANT: We wash our hands two times during the seder: now, with no blessing, so we can get ready for the rituals; and then again later, we’ll wash with a blessing preparing for the meal.
LEADER: Now we will all take the time to go to the sink and wash our hands.
Reflect: What shmutz (Yiddish for dirt) in your life would you like to be rid of?
LEADER: (Distributes pieces of green vegetable, such as parsley, to all assembled, and says:) The third ceremony is partaking of the Karpas. We now dip this green fruit of the earth into salt water. (While assembled take and pass dipped parsley:)
PARTICIPANT: Like many Jewish holidays, Passover connects to cycles in nature. The Karpas is a symbol of the Spring. It represents the reawakening of life and reminds us that beneath the snow, the earth is not dead, but dormant.
PARTICIPANT: We temper this symbol of hope by dipping it in salt water, symbolic of the tears of our enslaved forefathers. As many of us still shed tears due to loss of work or of our daily routines, it can be easy to lose sight of the new season beginning just outside our doors.
PARTICIPANT: We mix a bit of this symbol of hope and springtime with a little sadness. May our gratitude for the blessings that we enjoy help to soften the pain of sorrow, and convert tears to joy and appreciation.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei p’ri ha’adamah.
Blessed art Thou, our God, ruler of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the earth.
(The vegetable is eaten)
LEADER: (Places before him the three wrapped Matzos from the Seder Plate.) I now perform the ceremony of "Yachatz." I shall break the middle Matzoh in two, removing one half and setting it aside. This will become the "Afikomen," the dessert, to be eaten at the conclusion of our meal.
PARTICIPANT: Yachatz is where we break the middle matzah, which symbolizes the strength of the Jews to escape from their situation in Egypt no matter what. Much is broken in our world right now.
PARTICIPANT: The Jewish tradition teaches that it’s not up to us to finish the work of repairing all that is broken with the world, but that we still must engage in whatever way we can, and to do so with our whole hearts.
Reflect: What's one way you plan on reaching out to someone, be them friend, family or stranger? How can you make the distance apart feel a little smaller?
Maggid: Ha Lachma Anya
הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא בְּאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם. כָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְרִיךְ יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח. הָשַׁתָּא הָכָא, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל. הָשַׁתָּא עַבְדֵי, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין.
Ha lachma anya dee achalu avhatana b'ara d'meetzrayeem.
LEADER (Raises up the three Matzos, then says:) LO! This is the bread of affliction, the humble and simple bread which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.
PARTICIPANT: We hold up the matzah to declare that we remember and commemorate a time when we were slaves, in bondage, without freedom.
PARTICIPANT: This Maggid is different than others we may have experienced in our lives. During this Maggid, this telling, when we read of ancient miracles, we are witnessing present day miracles, vaccines. When we tell each other of our exodus, our exit from Egypt, we await our moment of exodus, when we will emerge from our homes, and see our loved ones safely.
LEADER: So as we continue with the order of Maggid, we continue with something we all have today as well - questions. (Pour the second glass of wine for everyone.)
REFLECTION: Usually on passover we open the door and ask anyone who is hungry to join us at this Seder, and let them partake of what we have to share. How can we say this Pesach all are invited to come for a seder?
מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות
Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?
Why is this night different from all other nights?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה
Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin chameitz u-matzah. Halaila hazeh kulo matzah.
On all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah.
Tonight we only eat matzah.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר
Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin shi’ar yirakot haleila hazeh maror.
On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables,
but tonight we eat bitter herbs.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָֽנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּֽעַם אחָת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעמים
Shebichol haleilot ain anu matbilin afilu pa-am echat. Halaila hazeh shtei fi-amim.
On all other nights we aren’t expected to dip our vegetables one time.
Tonight we do it twice.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין. :הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּֽנוּ מְסֻבין
Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin. Halaila hazeh kulanu m’subin.
On all other nights we eat either sitting normally or reclining.
Tonight we recline.
LEADER: We shall now answer the four basic questions concerning Passover, which you have asked.
PARTICIPANT: Once we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord, in goodness and mercy, brought us forth from that land, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Had we not been rescued from the hand of the despot, surely we and our children would still be enslaved, deprived of liberty and human dignity.
PARTICIPANT: We, therefore, gather year after year, to retell this ancient story. For, in reality, it is not ancient, but eternal in its message, and its spirit. It proclaims our burning desire to preserve liberty and justice for all.
PARTICIPANT: The first question asked concerns the use of Matzoh. We eat these unleavened cakes to remember that our ancestors, in their haste to leave Egypt, could not wait for bread to rise, and so removed them from the ovens while still flat.
PARTICIPANT: We partake of the Moror on this night that we might taste of some bitterness, to remind ourselves how bitter is the lot of one caught in the grip of slavery.
PARTICIPANT: We dip twice in the course of this Service, greens in salt water and Moror in Charoses, once to replace tears with gratefulness, and once to sweeten bitterness and suffering.
PARTICIPANT: The fourth question asks why, on this night, we eat in a reclining position. To recline at mealtimes in ancient days was the sign of a free person. On this night of Passover, we demonstrate our sense of complete freedom by reclining and/or slouching during our repast.
LEADER: Of four children did the Torah speak, describing four types of Jews:
ASSEMBLED: The wise one, the wicked one , the simple one and the young one, who does not know enough to inquire.
LEADER: The wise child asks: What mean these customs in which we engage, which the Lord commanded to observe?
ASSEMBLED: This child is regarded as wise, since they include themselves among those obligated to observe the traditions of Passover.
LEADER: The wicked child asks: What does this service mean to you?
ASSEMBLED: This child is regarded as wicked, since they exclude themselves from the obligated group, assuming that Jewish duties are meant for others.
LEADER: The simple one, regarded as simple because of their indifference asks: What is all this?
ASSEMBLED: To this child you shall respond: With a strong hand God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves. It is incumbent upon us to remember and to observe.
LEADER: The young one, not yet able to inquire, is to be told the story of Passover, in accordance with the biblical command:
ASSEMBLED: “And thou shalt tell thy child in that day saying: It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”
LEADER: It is incumbent upon us to emulate the wise child by remembering our duties to our people and our faith. We must share in the obligations to advance the Jewish way of life. To remove ourselves from these endeavors, looking to others to carry the burdens, is to fail in our responsibility. The wise one, the wise Jew, understands the importance of their personal participation in all efforts for the betterment of humanity.
PARTICIPANT: Scripture tells that in the land of Canaan, at the time of a famine, our Patriarch, Jacob, sent his sons to Egypt to purchase food. They also sought permission from Pharaoh to allow their flocks to graze, for the pasture lands in Canaan were barren. It was not their intention to settle in Egypt; merely to visit and find relief from want.
PARTICIPANT: There were but seventy people who arrived in Egypt, but, in time, their number increased. Soon they grew in strength and became a mighty people. The Egyptians came to fear them for, they reasoned, in time of war they might join with enemy nations and become a threatening force. They, therefore, decided to subdue them with forced labor, and to reduce their numbers by casting male children into the river. Task masters were placed over the Hebrews, who whipped and tortured them, compelling them to make bricks and build great cities for Pharaoh.
PARTICIPANT: The task was inhumane and too great to bear. The Jewish people cried out. God called to Moses, charging him to appear before Pharaoh and to demand that the people be released. Pharaoh was obstinate and would not heed the word of God. It was then foretold the punishment which the Almighty would bring upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians: Plagues would come to the land of Egypt and many would perish.
PARTICIPANT: Pharaoh defied God and placed his trust in his own powers. In the face of all pleas, he refused to free the Jewish people. In consequence the plagues descended upon Egypt. Many perished and the suffering was great. Pharaoh, nonetheless, remained obstinate; he would not yield. When the tenth plague visited upon them, the death of first-born sons of Egypt, a great cry went up throughout Egypt, and when Pharaoh’s son perished he finally ordered Moses to take his people out of the land.
LEADER: God’s law aims for the welfare and happiness of all people. Those that deny God’s Law and to do evil, bring pain and suffering upon themselves.
PARTICIPANT: When Pharaoh defied the command of God to release the Jewish people, he invited adversity upon himself and his own people.
PARTICIPANT: Though the plagues were the result of their own evil, we do not rejoice in the downfall or defeat of the Egyptians.
LEADER: Judaism regards all people as the children of God, even enemies who seek to destroy our people.
ASSEMBLED: We mourn their loss and express sorrow over their destruction.
LEADER: A full cup is the symbol of complete joy. Though we celebrate our triumph and our freedom, our happiness is not complete so long as others had to be sacrificed for its sake. We pour out a drop of wine as an expression of sorrow for each of the plagues as we recite them.
(Dip a finger your wine glass and drip into saucer for each plague)
ASSEMBLED: (in Hebrew or English)
Blood | dam | דָּם
Frogs | tzfardeiya | צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ
Lice | kinim | כִּנִּים
Beasts | arov | עָרוֹב
Cattle disease | dever | דֶּֽבֶר
Boils | sh’chin | שְׁחִין
Hail | barad | בָּרָד
Locusts | arbeh | אַרְבֶּה
Darkness | choshech | חֹֽשֶׁךְ
Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot | מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת
LEADER: In the same spirit, our celebration today is also shadowed by our awareness of continuing sorrow and oppression in all parts of the world. Ancient plagues are mirrored in modern tragedies.
PARTICIPANT: We are a world people, living in many lands and among many nations. We are all victims together of enormous social problems. We share in their effects and in the responsibility to overcome them.
PARTICIPANT: As the pain of others diminishes our joys, let us once more diminish the wine of our festival as we repeat the names of these modern plagues:
Indifference to Suffering
LEADER: The plagues and our subsequent redemption from Egypt are but one example of the care God has shown for us in our history. Had God but done any one of these kindnesses, it would have been enough – dayeinu. For each of them we offer thanks and humble gratitude.
ASSEMBLED: (one or more versus of Dayenu can be sung)
אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם, דַּיֵּנוּ
Ilu hotzi- hotzianu, Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim, Dayeinu
If God had only taken us out of Egypt, that would have been enough!
אִלּוּ נָתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה, דַּיֵּנוּ
Ilu natan natan lanu, natan lanu et ha-Torah, Natan lanu et ha-Torah , Dayeinu
If God had only given us the Torah, that would have been enough.
The complete lyrics to Dayeinu tell the entire story of the Exodus from Egypt as a series of miracles God performed for us.
Dayeinu also reminds us that each of our lives is the cumulative result of many blessings, small and large.
LEADER: We have now told the story of Passover…but wait! We’re not quite done. There are still some symbols on our seder plate we haven’t talked about yet. Rabban Gamliel would say that whoever didn’t explain the shank bone, matzah, and marror (or bitter herbs) hasn’t done Passover justice.
PARTICIPANT: The shank bone represents the Pesach, the special lamb sacrifice made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. It is called the pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt when visiting plagues upon our oppressors.
PARTICIPANT: The matzah reminds us that when our ancestors were finally free to leave Egypt, there was no time to pack or prepare. Our ancestors grabbed whatever dough was made and set out on their journey, letting their dough bake into matzah as they fled.
PARTICIPANT: The bitter herbs provide a visceral reminder of the bitterness of slavery, the life of hard labor our ancestors experienced in Egypt.
בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם
B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.
ASSEMBLED: In every generation, each person must look upon themselves as though they, personally, was among those who went forth from Egypt.
LEADER: The struggle for freedom is a continuous struggle, For never does a person reach total liberty and opportunity.
ASSEMBLED: In every age, some new freedom is won and established, adding to the advancement of human happiness and security.
LEADER: Yet, each age uncovers a formerly unrecognized servitude, requiring new liberation to set the soul free.
ASSEMBLED: In every age, the concept of freedom grows broader, widening the horizons for finer and more ethical living.
LEADER: Each generation is duty-bound to contribute to this growth, else humanity's ideals become stagnant and stationary.
ASSEMBLED: The events in Egypt were but the begining of a force in history which will forever continue.
LEADER: In this spirit, we see ourselves as participants in the Exodus, for we must dedicate our energies to the cause there begun.
ASSEMBLED: In our day, we shall defend the heritage of liberty, taught by the Torah and preserved by democracies.
(All raise their cups.)
As inheritors of the priceless heritage of liberty, we join now in glorifying God's Name. For the miracles of the past, and also in our day, we offer God our thankfulness: We were delivered us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to happiness, from mourning to rejoicing, from ignorance to enlightenment; In gratitude for these manifold blessings we shall sing songs of praise.
(The cups are put down and refilled.)
ASSEMBLED: We praise God, who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzah and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.
(Drink the from second glass of wine!)
LEADER: As we prepare to partake of, the meal, we shall wash our hands (symbolically), this time reciting the prescribed blessing:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.
(Upper matzoh and the remainder of the middle matzoh are broken into smaller pieces, which are distributed to everyone. )
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who brings bread from the land.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat matzah.
(The piece of Matzoh is eaten)
(Leader breaks the bottom matzoh, adds the maror and charoses, and distributes to all)
Leader: We all have reason to feel a little bitter these days. During Passover, we eat bitter herbs like horseradish to remind ourselves of the hardships of slavery. But we do not allow the bitterness to consume us entirely. After that sting, we mix a little sweetness from the charoset into the maror. We pause and bless the moment of confronting our difficulties, grateful that they too shall pass. We recite together:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat bitter herbs.
(Maror and Charoset are eaten)
MAZON’s Fifth Question
LEADER: Each year at the Seder, we ask the traditional Four Questions. And each year, MAZON asks a Fifth Question to raise awareness about hunger and spark important conversations around the seder table.
ALL: How will we retell this story?
How will we retell the story of this past year, and all it has wrought? Though we are still in the throes of the pandemic, we know this will be a defining moment, just as is the story of Passover. The pandemic revealed and exacerbated structural inequities and the breadth of simple human need. In the plainest terms, hunger has doubled in this country due to the economic impacts of the pandemic; for households with children, tripled.
How will we retell the story of this past year, and all we have learned? It is our responsibility to channel the stark clarity that has been so catastrophically thrust upon us into a demonstration of our values. We will fight against the barriers faced by millions to accessing food and other necessities. We will fight the stigma that discourages people from getting the help they need. We will fight any policy, school of thought, or kernel of doubt that challenges the notion that people deserve to feed themselves with dignity, no matter their circumstances.