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Passover is a holiday with many different themes.  This breadth ensures that no two seders will ever be exactly alike and encourages each of us to engage equally, whether this is the first or hundredth seder you’ve attended.  It also challenges each of us to connect to the seder on a personal, individual level.  The themes offered are just a sampling, what other themes are you drawn to?

Redemption: In the Exodus story, the Jews were redeemed physically from slavery. While Pesach is "z'man heyruteinu," the season of our freedom, it is also a festival that speaks of spiritual redemption. Jews were freed from mental as well as physical slavery.  It was as a physically and spiritually free people that the Jewish nation prepared to receive the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  The seder also includes many allusions to a future messianic redemption. One of the clearest symbols is the Cup of Elijah placed on every seder table. Contained within the salvation from Egypt are the seeds of future redemption, as the Torah states, "This same night is a night of watching unto the Lord for all the children of Israel throughout their generations" (Exodus 12:42).

Creation:  Passover is known by several names in Hebrew, including Chag HaAviv, holiday of the spring.  Pesach celebrates spring, rebirth, and renewal, symbolized by the green “ karpas ” and the egg on the seder plate.  It is also a time of “beginning,” as exemplified by the first grain harvest and the birth of Israel as a nation.  Also, Nissan, this Hebrew month, was traditionally seen as the first month of the Jewish year.

Education:  Four different times in the Torah, the Jews are commanded to repeat the story of the Passover (Exodus 12:26, 13:8, 14; Deuteronomy 6:20).  The seder is centered around teaching the story of the exodus from Egypt.  In fact, Haggadah means “the telling.”  Two of the most important readings address education head on: the four questions and the four sons.  The first encourages even the youngest children to begin asking questions, while the latter instructs us how to respond to different learning styles.  Even at a seder without children present, the night takes on an educational feel.  Thought provoking questions and supportive debate are encouraged. 

Patterns of Four: Throughout the seder, you may notice the number four being repeated in many guises.  This is based on the verse in Exodus that states, "I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments, and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God…" (Exodus 6:6-7).  Among many other patterns of four at the seder, we drink four cups of wine, ask four questions, and speak about four types of children.

Source :
Caged Bird


A free bird leaps 

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends 

and dips his wing 

in the orange sun rays 

and dares to claim the sky. 

But a bird that stalks 

down his narrow cage 

can seldom see through 

his bars of rage 

his wings are clipped and   

his feet are tied 

so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom. 

The free bird thinks of another breeze 

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees 

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn 

and he names the sky his own 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   

so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.

Source :
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7.) The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.
Source : Original
At this point, I will symbolically wash my hands for all of us, without saying the blessing. As I take a moment to wash my hands, imagine that you are washing away all anxiety and stress in your life, and allow yourself to be filled with the hope that the world can be a better place for us all.
Source : Original
When we bless the green parsley and dip it in the salty water, we remember the spring, and we remember the long, sad years of our slavery.

When we left Egypt,

we bloomed and sprouted,

and songs dripped from our tongues

like shimmering threads of nectar.

All green with life we grew,

who had been buried,

under toil and sorrow,

dense as bricks.

All green in the desert we grew,

casting seeds at a promise.

All green we grew. 

Source : original

By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

We all know that we cannot rely on the holiness of our desires all the time.  Tonight is special, different. Tonight it is safe to let go.  But in a week or a month, who knows?  By breaking the middle matzah , we acknowledge that we are still split.  We still cannot ultimately trust that our desires and our necessities, our concerns and our impulses, our inner child and our responsible adult, have become one. There is brokenness here. 

The two pieces of matzah represent two kinds of eating: because we have to and because we want to. One half we will eat soon, in hunger. The other half we will hide─the half that represents desire, enjoyment, fulfillment, luxury.  It is supposed to be eaten on a full stomach, out of desire to eat rather than necessity.

We will hide it because our relationship to it is still uncharted - many of us haven't yet made peace with our desires as portals to the holy.  But we are also giving ourselves a goal. The hidden matzah represents our future, the ultimate future, where we are free to do as we wish, knowing that this is Hashem's wish as well. Our ultimate goal is to bring these two halves together.

This is a moment of brokenness, but it is also a moment of faith.  In allowing ourselves to break, to recognize the split, to admit unfamiliarity, to admit that we are not yet there, we are also expressing faith that the rift can be fixed.  After all, only people who do not believe in healing try to 'keep it together'.  Jews, however, believe in the 'healer of broken hearts'. We believe in the G-d who values nothing higher than a broken vessel. We believe that even when the broken matzah is two, it is one.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Machar
[Resume taking turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

Passover is the celebration of life. The story of the Jewish people is truly a triumph of life. Against the odds of history, the Jewish people have done more than survive - we have adapted creatively to each new time, each new place, from the birth of our people to the present day.

Even though death has pursued us relentlessly, time and time again, we have chosen to live. During the many centuries of the Jewish experience, memories of destruction are tempered by the knowledge that the world can also be good.

We have endured slavery and humiliation. We have also enjoyed freedom and power. Darkness has been balanced by light.

Our forebears traveled the Earth in search of the safety and liberty they knew must exist. We have learned to endure. We have learned to progress.

We are proud survivors. We celebrate our good fortune and seek the advancement of all.


One of the customs of the seder is the asking of questions - questions about what the ritual actions of the seder mean. The Passover tradition involves the youngest children asking - actually singing - about these matters in a song we call "The Four Questions." 

-- Four Questions
Source : Original Illustration from

-- Four Questions
Source : Richard A. Lewis

The hallmark of a free people is the ability and the right to ask questions, especially questions that enable us to understand our human condition, our past, and our traditions. Although at Seder, it is tradition that the youngest among us ask the Four Questions, we all must ask questions that illuminate our themes of "freedom" and "liberation." By asking questions, and receiving answers to those questions, we may be better able to help create a society where, in the words of John F. Kenney,"the strong are just, the weak secure,and the peace preserved forever."

-- Four Questions

Why is tonight different than all other nights? We ask four questions, but tonight they are different from what you may have expected. Passover is about freedom. So these are the questions we ask tonight.

  1. Why is it only on this night that we celebrate our freedom?
  2. Why is it only on this night that we celebrate that we are alive?
  3. Why is it only on this night that we appreciate where we came from?
  4. Why is it only on this night that we think about why we are who we seem to be?
-- Four Children
Source :
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?


“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”


“How can I solve problems of such enormity?” Encourage her by explaining that she need not solve the problems, she must only do what she 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.”


“It’s not my responsibility.”Persuade him 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.”


Prompt her to see herself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy.  As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”At this season of liberation, join us in working for the liberation of all people. Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice. 

-- Exodus Story
by Sara
Remember the days of old:consider the years of many generations (Deut. 32:7)

Every year, hundreds of giant sea turtles swim hundreds of miles from their homes near Brazil to a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean in order to find their mates.  For years, scientists tried to understand how the turtles could find their way every time, from so far away. It was a tiny island, and even airplanes sometimes had trouble finding it.  What do you think it was??  Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, when the dinosaurs lived, that little island was closer to Brazil, and it used to be a short swim from where the turtles lived. It is in their memory to know where to go, even though they themselves don't remember, they have a memory together of the way that it used to be, and they heard stories from their turtle parents about that special place. Each year, they go there together to remind themselves of the trip that their ancestors used to take. Tonight, we are just like those turtles. 

-- Ten Plagues

Plagues are horrors, and tonight we will not simply say that and let it go. Tonight, we remember what we sacrificed for our freedom.

Remember the sick.

Remember the dying.

Remember the starving.

Remember those who drowned in the sea.

Remember the slaughtering of the first-borns.

Tonight we recognize that our freedom came with a price, and we do not push that out of our history. Finally, tonight we move forward, but we do not forget, in order to better ourselves in years to come.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Original

Oh God

I am almost afraid to look over my shoulder

To see how far I’ve come

The expanse seems impossibly wide

And yet

Here I am


Singing Your Name

Surrounded by love and family

Breathing hope in and out

I raise my eyes to the horizon and it feels so close

I am giddy with relief

Your sea is calm now at our backs

The line of the brown rocks

From which we leapt

Only hours ago

Seems a distant memory

This moment is all joy and wonder

We sing and we sing

Circles within circles of men and women and children

All filled up with Your name

With Your praises

Our hearts are full

Our lives are Yours

We lift our eyes to You

And know we have arrived at the beginning

Of greatness

We have set our feet firmly on Your path

The one that leads straight to Your door

To our true home

To our destiny

To You and to us

Inside each other

Together in each moment

At last

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
From singing Dayenu we learn to celebrate each landmark on our people's journey. Yet we must never confuse these way stations with the goal. Because it is not yet Dayenu. There is still so much to do in our work of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

When governments end the escalating production of devastating weapons, secure in the knowledge that they will not be necessary, Dayenu.

When all women and men are allowed to make their own decisions on matters regarding their own bodies and personal relationships without discrimination or legal consequences, Dayenu.

When children grow up in freedom, without hunger, and with the love and support they need to realize their full potential, Dayenu.

When the air, water, fellow creatures and beautiful world are protected for the benefit and enjoyment of all and given priority over development for the sake of profit, Dayenu.

When people of all ages, sexes, races, religions, sexual orientations, cultures and nations respect and appreciate one another, Dayenu.

When each person can say, "This year, I worked as hard as I could toward improving the world so that all people can experience the joy and freedom I feel sitting here tonight at the seder table," Dayenu v'lo Dayenu - It will and will not be enough.


Together, our ancestors were strong enough to move past what others forced upon them.

Together, our ancestors made it through the harsh times.

Together, our ancestors fought for the lives they wanted to live.

Together, we will do the same.

Source : Design by


    D                  A          A7                   D
Hey Jude don t make it bad take a sad song and make it better
  G                           D                      A                D
Remember to let her into your heart and then you can start to make it better

    D              A              A7                 D
Hey Jude don t be afraid you were made to go out and get her 
    G                             D               A              D
The minute you let her under your skin then you begin to make it better

D7                       G               Em                    A7
And anytime you feel the pain hey Jude refrain don t carry the world upon your
D7                             G                 Em                 A7
Well don t you know that its a fool who plays it cool by making his world a
little colder

D        D7   A7
Da da da da   Da da da da  Da

Source : Rabbi Andrea Steinberger

Korech:  Mixing the Bitter and the Sweet

One of my favorite moments of the seder comes just before dinner is served.  It is called Korech.  It is also known as the Hillel sandwich.  It is the moment when we eat maror (the bitter herbs) and the charoset (the sweet apple and nut mixture) on a piece of matzah.  What a strange custom to eat something so bitter and something so sweet all in one bite.  I can taste it now, just thinking about it, and the anticipation is almost too much to bear.  I dread it, and I long for it all at the same time.  Why do we do such a thing?  We do it to tell our story.

The Jewish people tells our story through our observance of Jewish holidays throughout the year.  The holidays of Passover, Chanukah and Purim remind us just how close the Jewish people has come to utter destruction and how we now celebrate our strength and our survival with great joy, remembering God’s help and our persistence, and our own determination to survive. 

We also tell the story throughout our lifetime of Jewish rituals.  The breaking of a glass at a Jewish wedding reminds us that even in times of life’s greatest joys we remember the sadness of the destruction of the Temple.  When we build a home, some Jews leave a part unfinished to remember that even when building something new, we sense the times of tragedy in the Jewish people.  And on Passover we mix the sweet charoset with the bitter maror, mixing bitter and sweet of slavery and freedom all in one bite.

Throughout each year and throughout our lifetimes, we challenge ourselves to remember that even in times of strength, it is better to sense our vulnerability, rather than bask in our success.  We all have memories of times in which bitter and sweet were mixed in our lives, all in the same bite.  Judaism says, sometimes life is like that.  We can celebrate and mourn all at the same time.  And somehow, everything will be ok.  What is your korech moment?


Source : Telling the Story: A Passover Haggadah Explained

There is a word in Hebrew — Teshuvah — that means return. It is an acknowledgement that there is always a chance for forgiveness, redemption and change. Our traditions teach that Passover is open to all. Everyone is welcome at this table. There is always room. Because no one is ever turned away, there is always an opportunity for a rebirth of spirit.

As a sign of hospitality to all, we open the door to our homes and symbolically invite anyone who wants to join us to come inside.

At this point, the children open the door.


Okay we're done. Time to eat!!