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A Passover Haggadah - Compiled and Adapted by Emma and Zach Freeman - 2017

KADESH, Sanctification of the Day

UR-HATZ, Washing the Hands

KARPAS, Rebirth and Renewal

YACHATZ, A Bond Formed by Sharing

MAGGID, The Story of the Exodus

ROCHTZAH, Washing our Hands

MOTZI, A Blessing for Bread

MATZAH, A Special Blessing for Matzah

MAROR, A Blessing for the Bitter Herbs

KOREICH, Continuity with Past Tradition

SHULCHAN OREICH, The Meal is Served

TZAFUN, The Afikoman is Found and Eaten

BAREICH, Thanks for Divine Sustenance

HALLEL, Praise

NIRTZAH, Conclusion


A word about God: everyone has their own understanding of what God is. For some people there is no God, while for others, God is an integral part of their lives. While we may not agree on a singular concept of God, we share a common desire for goodness to prevail in the world. And this is the meaning of tonight: freedom prevailing over slavery, good prevailing over evil. Please consider the source of benevolence in your life, be it God, a belief in humanity, or something else, and hold that source in your hearts as we move through the evening.


The seder officially begins with a physical act: lighting the candles.  In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to sacred time.  Lighting the candles is an important part of our Passover celebration because their flickering light reminds us of the importance of keeping the fragile flame of freedom alive in the world.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with laws and commanded us to light the festival lights.

As we light the festival candles, we acknowledge that as they brighten our Passover table, good thoughts, good words, and good deeds brighten our days.


The Seder plate holds at least six of the ritual items that are discussed during the Seder: the shankbone, maror, charoset, karpas, salt water, orange, roasted egg, and boiled egg.


One of the most striking symbols of Passover is the roasted lamb shankbone (called zeroah), which commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Some say it symbolizes the outstretched arm of God (the Hebrew word zeroah can mean “arm”).


Bitter herbs (usually horseradish) bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The Seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but people are called to look at their own bitter enslavements.


There’s nothing further from maror than charoset (“cha-ROH-set”), the sweet salad of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon that represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks.


Karpas is a green vegetable, usually parsley (though any spring green will do). Karpas symbolizes the freshness of spring. Some families still use boiled potatoes for karpas, continuing a tradition from Eastern Europe where it was difficult to obtain fresh green vegetables.


Salt water symbolizes the tears and sweat of enslavement, though paradoxically, it’s also a symbol for purity, springtime, and the sea.


The tradition of putting an orange on the seder plate in comes from Dr. Susannah Heschel. It is a relatively recent addition that represents empathy with those often marginalized in the Jewish community: the widow, the orphan, women in general, and the LGTBQ community. 


The roasted egg (baytsah) is a symbol in many different cultures, usually signifying springtime and renewal. Here it stands in place of one of the sacrificial offerings which was performed in the days of the Second Temple. Another popular interpretation is that the egg is like the Jewish people: the hotter you make it for them, the tougher they get.

May we reflect on our lives this year and soften our hearts to those around us. Another year has passed since we gathered at the Seder table and we are once again reminded that life is fleeting. We are reminded to use each precious moment wisely so that no day will pass without bringing us closer to some worthy achievement as we all take a moment to be aware of how truly blessed we are. Our faith gives us many holidays to celebrate throughout the year and they are all times for self reflection, gently guiding us to a better path in life. We are each given a chance to reflect on our past year; to think about where we have been and how we will live our lives in the year to come. We reaffirm our commitment to lead good and meaningful lives, promoting peace wherever we go.


Kadesh Contributed by Ady Fisberg Levine

The Hebrew word “Kiddush” means sanctification. But it is not the wine we sanctify. Instead, the wine is a symbol of the sanctity, the preciousness, and the sweetness of this moment. Held together by sacred bonds of family and friendship, we share this table tonight with one another and with all the generations who have come before us.

We drink four cups of wine at our seder to remember the four promises God made to the people of Israel (Exodus 6:6-7):

I will bring you out...

I will save you...

I will redeem you...

I will take you to be My people...

As we remember the first promise of redemption, we raise our cup in gratitude for the joy of freedom.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam Borei p-ri ha-ga-fen.

Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,
Water is refreshing, cleansing, and clear, so it’s easy to understand why so many cultures and religions use water for symbolic purification. We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal, which Judaism thinks of as a ritual in itself. (The Jewish obsession with food is older than you thought!)

To wash your hands, you don’t need soap, but you do need a cup to pour water over your hands. Pour water on each of your hands three times, alternating between your hands. If the people around your table don’t want to get up to walk all the way over to the sink, you could pass a pitcher and a bowl around so everyone can wash at their seats… just be careful not to spill!

Too often during our daily lives we don’t stop and take the moment to prepare for whatever it is we’re about to do.

Let's pause to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together tonight. Go around the table and share one hope or expectation you have for tonight's seder.


Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.

We now take some parsley, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. And now we now dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves. Before we eat it, we recite a short blessing:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.

We look forward to spring and the reawakening of flowers and greenery. They haven’t been lost, just buried beneath the snow, getting ready for reappearance just when we most needed them.

We all have aspects of ourselves that sometimes get buried under the stresses of our busy lives. What has this winter taught us? What elements of our own lives do we hope to revive this spring?


"Break the middle matzah on the matzah plate. This is called the Yachatz --literally-- the breaking. We break the matzah and hide one part (the Afikomen). We recognize that liberation is made by imperfect people, broken, fragmented — so don’t be waiting until you are totally pure, holy, spiritually centered, and psychologically healthy to get involved in tikkun (the healing and repair of the world). It will be imperfect people, wounded healers, who do the healing as we simultaneously work on ourselves." -Rabbi Michael Lerner

We simply break the matzo, leaving the smaller section on the Seder plate. We wrap the larger piece and put it away for afikomen. Why do we do this?

Passover is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt. The biblical narrative relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the bread, when baked, was matzo. The other reason for eating matzo is symbolic: On the one hand, matzo symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also, "poor man's bread". Thus it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. Also, leaven symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven "puffs up". Eating the "bread of affliction" is a lesson in humility and an act that enhances the appreciation of freedom.

-- Four Questions

The four questions help us understand our transition from slavery to freedom. Each of the practices questioned is symbolic of our slavery, freedom, or both.


Mah nishtanah halyla hazeh mikol halaylot

1) She'bechol halaylot ain anu matbilin afilu pa'am echat, halyla hazeh shtei pe'amim?

2) She'bechol halaylot anu ochlim chametz o matza, halyla hazeh kulo maztah?

3) She'bechol halaylot anu ochlim she'ar yerakot, halyla hazeh maror?

4) She'bechol halaylot anu ochlim bain yoshvin bain mesubin, halyla hazeh kulanu mesubin?


What makes this night different from all other nights?

1) On all nights we need not dip even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?

Slavery: The salt water into which we dip the karpas (potato, onion, or other vegetable) represents the tears we cried while in Egypt. Similarly, the charoset (fruit-nut paste) into which the bitter herbs are dipped reminds us of the cement we used to create the bricks in Egypt.

Freedom: Dipping food is considered a luxury; a sign of freedom -- as opposed to the poor (and enslaved) who eat "dry" and un-dipped foods.

2) On all other nights we eat chametz or matzah. Why on this night do we eat only matzah?

Slavery: Matzah was the bread of slaves and poor, it was cheap to produce and easy to make.

Freedom: Matzah also commemorates the fact that the bread did not have enough time to rise when the Jews hastily left Egypt.

3) On all other nights we eat any kind of vegetables. Why on this night do we eat only maror?

Slavery: The maror (bitter herbs) reminds us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.

4) On all other nights we eat sitting upright or reclining. Why on this night do we all recline?

Freedom: We commemorate our freedom by reclining on cushions like royalty.

-- Four Children

At Passover, we are confronted with the story of our ancestor’s pursuit of liberation from oppression. Facing this mirror of history, how do we answer our children, and ourselves, when asked how to pursue justice in our time?

Feeling like an activist, one child asks: “The Torah tells me, ‘Justice shall you pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”

Empower always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As the Book of Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”

In a moment of skepticism, one child asks: “How can I solve problems of such enormity?”

Encourage by explaining that one individual need not solve the problems, and must only do what one is capable of doing. As we read in Pirke Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

One child, feeling indifferent, says: “It’s not my responsibility.”

Persuade that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And a child, feeling uninformed, chooses to not ask a question.

Prompt that we are all inheritors of our people’s legacy. As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

-- Exodus Story

Jacob’s family came to Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan. Joseph, Viceroy to Pharoah, settled his family in the land of Goshen, apart from the Egyptians. Joseph’s contribution to Egyptian society was forgotten after his death, and the new Pharaoh, feeling threatened by the success of the Israelites, enslaved them with cruel and bitter labor.

Alerted to a prophecy that the Israelites would be led to freedom by a boy yet to be born, Pharaoh ordered all newborn Jewish boys cast into the Nile. Yocheved set her newborn son (Moses) adrift in the Nile in a basket, where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him.

Years later, Moses came upon an Egyptian beating an Israelite. Outraged, Moses slew the Egyptian, but then fled Egypt for fear that his action would be discovered. Moses took refuge in Midian with Jethro and married Jethro's daughter, Tziporah. While shepherding Jethro’s sheep, Moses came upon a burning bush which was not consumed, from which God instructed him to go back and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Moses, joined by his older brother Aaron, went to Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Israelites. Pharaoh repeatedly said no--nine times. Each time he said no, another plague struck Egypt. Finally, God struck dead all the Egyptian first born. After this final tenth plague, Pharaoh finally said “yes” and the Jews fled Egypt.

But, Pharaoh changed his mind and chased the Israelites, who were eventually trapped between the Egyptian army and the Sea of Reeds. The Sea miraculously split and the Israelites crossed safely while the Egyptians drowned in the returning waters. Only Pharaoh survived. The Israelites then continued their journey to Mount Sinai, where they received the Torah.

As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them to signify having a little less sweetness in our celebration. Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague. These are the ten plagues: blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of the first born.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Dayenu is a song that is part of the Jewish holiday of Passover, and is over one thousand years old. The word “Dayenu” means approximately “it would have been enough for us." The song is about being grateful to God for all of the gifts he gave the Jewish people, such as taking them out of slavery, giving them the Torah and Shabbat, and had God only given one of the gifts, it would have still been enough.


Had he brought us out of Egypt,

Only brought us out of Egypt,

Had he brought us out of Egypt,

Dayenu. (It would have been enough.)

Had he given us the Torah,

Only given us the Torah,

Had he given us the Torah,

Dayenu. (It would have been enough.)


Ilu hotzi hotzianu,

Hotzianu mimitzrayim,

Hotzianu mimitzrayim,


(Repeat 2x)

Dai, da-ye-nu,

Dai, da-ye-nu,

Dai, da-ye-nu,

Dayenu, Dayenu!

Ilu natan natan lanu,

Natan lanu et ha Torah,

Natan lanu et ha Torah,


-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Second Cup of Wine

Contributed by Eli Allen

With the second cup of wine we remember God’s promise to save the Israelites from the forced labor of the Egyptian taskmasters.

Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei pri hagafen.

ברוך אתה י-י אלוקינו מלך העולם בורא פרי הגפן


As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to the celebratory meal, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual.

After you have poured the water over your hands, recite this short 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.

Source : Original

And now the moment we've all been waiting for... sort of. We start to actually eat things.

First, the matzah. We break up the middle matzah, pass the pieces around, and eat them. After the appropriate blessings, of course. (You may remember that this is only half of the middle matzah. We'll deal with the other half later, after having made a big thing out of splitting it in the first place.)

Once it's all distributed... the matzah gets two blessings. First, the ha-motzi, possibly the best known of the Jewish blessings:

ברוך אתה יי אלוהינו מלך חעולם
המוציא לחם מן הארץ

Barukh atah Adonia, eloheynu melekh ha-olam,
ha-motzi lekhem min ha-aretz.

You are blessed, Lord our God, ruler of the universe,
who brings for bread from the earth.

And now one specifically for Pesach and for matzah:

ברוך אתה יי אלוהינו מלך חעולם,
אשר קדשנו במצוותיו
וציבנו על אכילת מצה

Barukh atah Adonia, eloheynu melekh ha-olam,
asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav
v'tzivanu al akhilat matzah.

You are blessed, Lord out God, ruler of the universe
whose commandments sanctify us,
for your commandment to eat the matzah.

Source : Original

And now the part that you may not have been waiting for quite as much: the evenings first taste of maror, the bitter herbs.

But, as we said earlier, the taste is combined with the kharoset, a sweet combination of apples, grape juice, dates, walnuts, cinnamon, and a wide array of possible other stuff.

We combine the bitter with the sweet to show how they combine in our lives.

We'll pass around bits of matzah with the maror and karoset on it, then say a blessing before eating it:

ברוך אתה יי אלוהינו מלך חעולם,
אשר קדשנו במצוותיו
וציבנו על אכילת מרור

Barukh atah Adonia, eloheynu melekh ha-olam,
asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav
v'tzivanu al akhilat maror.

You are blessed, Lord out God, ruler of the universe
whose commandments sanctify us,
for your commandment to eat the maror.

Shulchan Oreich

And now we'll insert about fifty more --

Just kidding. Time to eat!

But stick around for the second half of the Seder, when we reveal what happens to the other half of the middle matzah, with special appearances from the Prophet Elijah, more wine, and more songs.

As the saying goes, 

 בתאבון ( b'teyavon )!

Buon appetito!

Let's eat!


When the children have finished their meal they may look for the Afikomen. This is a Greek word for Dessert and we cannot conclude the Seder until it is found and reunited with all the other Matzah pieces.


Refill everyone’s wine glass.

We now say grace after the meal.

A Cup to Ourselves, to all of us who are at this Seder tonight, to the present moment. Let us take this moment to honor our bodies, our lives, and our communities. Let us honor all the things that have made us who we are -- the pain and the pleasure. Let us savor our bodies in all their uniqueness: our skins and our bones, all of our different strengths and sizes, the places that look and move in ways unique to us. Note the places that hurt, the places we struggle with, the places that are changing and unfurling. Note the parts that have come down to us from our ancestors, the parts we have been taught to hate, the parts we have been taught to love. We are beautiful. Let us never forget that caring for ourselves, as we would care for our most precious and beloved, is part of creating the world we want to live in.


The fourth cup of wine is the cup of hope.

The seder tradition involves pouring a cup for the Hebrew prophet Elijah. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world.

Yet the tasks of saving the world -- once ascribed to prophets, messiahs and gods -- must be taken up by us mere mortals, by common people with shared goals. Working together for progressive change, we can bring about the improvement of the world, tiqqun ha-olam -- for justice and for peace, we can and we must.

Let us now symbolically open the door of our seder to invite in all people of good will and all those in need to work together with us for a better world. Let us raise our fourth cup as we dedicate ourselves to tiqqun olam, the improvement of the world.

Tiqqun Olam!

Source :

Nirtzah marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories and sung songs, and now it is time for the evening to come to a close. At the end of the seder, we honor the tradition of declaring, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Though it comes at the end of the seder, this moment also marks a beginning. We are beginning the next season with a renewed awareness of the freedoms we enjoy and the obstacles we must still confront. We are looking forward to the time that we gather together again. Having retold stories of the Jewish people, recalled historic movements of liberation, and reflected on the struggles people still face for freedom and equality, we are ready to embark on a year that we hope will bring positive change in the world and freedom to people everywhere.

In The Leader's Guide to the Family Participation Haggadah: A Different Night, Rabbi David Hartman writes: “Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become.”

What can we do to fulfill our reckless dreams? What will be our legacy for future generations?

Our seder is over, according to Jewish tradition and law. As we had the pleasure to gather for a seder this year, we hope to once again have the opportunity in the years to come. We pray that God brings health and healing to everyone in this room, and all who are in our thoughts, to Israel and all the people of the world. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim


Commentary / Readings

Kadesh - A Toast to Freedom Fill your cup with wine or grape juice. This is the first of four cups you'll enjoy at tonight's Seder. Everyone stands and recites Kiddush together.

Urchatz - Washing Hands Fill a cup with water. Pour some water over your right hand three times, then over your left hand three times. There is no blessing recited at this point.

Karpas - The Appetizer We dip a green vegetable into saltwater. The saltwater represents the tears of the Hebrew slaves. We taste this harshness in order to give us the humility necessary for freedom.

Yachatz - Break the Matzah Take the middle matzah from your Seder Plate and break it into two. Put the smaller piece back between the two complete matzahs. This piece is the "poor man's bread" over which we will recount the story of our Exodus. The larger piece becomes the Afikoman; put it in a bag and set it aside until the Seder's end (children often steal the Afikoman, and hide it – knowing that the Seder can’t end without it! This is a wonderful way to include children in the Seder).

Maggid - Retelling the Story The Seder Plate is moved aside and the second cup of wine is filled. The story of the Exodus is retold and explored. The Exodus from Egypt is not commemorated only as a historic event, but also as a dynamic process that occurs daily as we emancipate ourselves from our own limitations and strive towards freedom in our personal lives. At the end of this reading, say the blessing over the second cup.

Rachtzah - Washing Hands We prepare ourselves to eat matzah by again washing our hands. Pour some water over your right hand three times, then over your left hand three times. Say the appropriate blessing and dry your hands.

Motzei - Thank G-d for Bread Raise the three matzahs together-the top one, the broken middle one and the bottom one-and say the blessing. Then return the bottom matzah to the Seder Plate.

Matzah - Bless the Matzah Recite the blessing on the top and (broken) middle matzah. Break off a piece from each of these two matzahs for yourself and for each of those sitting at your table. It is customary to recline while eating matzah, the bread of freedom.

Marror - Bitter Herbs Marror evokes the bitter taste of slavery in Egypt. Dip the marror into the charoset, which recalls the mortar of the pyramids the Jews built in Egypt, and then say the blessing. Do not recline while eating marror – as it is a food of slavery, and reclining evokes freedom.

Korech – Sandwich Make a marror & charoset sandwich! This is a custom that Hillel, a famous Rabbi in the Talmud, used to do, in order to fuse together the various foods and their symbols: we bring the bitter and the sweet together, and the food of freedom together with the food of slavery, realizing how closely linked they are, grateful that our lives are sweet and free.

Shulchan Orech - Festive Meal It is the custom of some to begin the meal with eating the egg on the Seder Plate, dipped in saltwater. The egg symbolizes the cycle of life. Now, finally, it’s time to eat. Enjoy your meal!!!

Tzafun - Out of Hiding At the conclusion of the Passover meal, the Afikoman (which had been set aside at the beginning of the Seder) is eaten. Afikoman is a Greek word that means dessert. It is the last thing that should be eaten on the Seder night.

Bairach - Grace after the Meal The third cup is now filled. Say the grace after the meal and then the appropriate blessing for wine, and drink this cup while reclining. The Cup of Elijah is customarily filled at this time, and Eliyahu Hanavi, Elijah the Prophet, is sung. This song symbolizes a hope for a time of peace and wholeness, a time of true freedom for the world.

Hallel - Out of Hiding "Songs of Praise" are now offered. Sing them to your heart's content! At the end, say a blessing and drink the fourth and final cup while reclining.

Nirtzah - Acceptance The steps of the Seder have been integrated into our consciousness and accepted. Now we pause, take a deep breath, and reflect on our experience: We examined our personal challenges through the slavery of our ancestors, and we achieved a personal freedom by re-exploringthe Exodus. We end the Seder with a prayer for peace.