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LEADER Each year, Jews across the world join with family, friends, neighbors, and strangers to celebrate the holiday of Passover with a symbolic meal called a seder. But why? What is behind this tradition?

Seder means “order.” The ordered rituals and symbols of the Passover seder help us to tell the story of the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery in Egypt.

(Leader holds up the Seder Plate and briefly explains the ritual items and what they symbolize.)

For today’s seder we choose to recognize that while the Jewish people may be free, not everyone has cause for celebration. Many people, even in a free society such as ours, are bound by the hardships and challenges of their circumstances. We come together today with them in mind, determined to realize our vision of a day when we will all be truly free from the oppression of hunger.

LEADER Let us honor this moment by joining together in song:

Hineh mah tov u’ma-na’im shevet achim gam yachad.

How good it is for brothers and sisters to be together.


During the traditional seder, we join together and drink four cups of wine: a cup for each of the promises of freedom God made to the Israelites as God led them out of bondage. Today we join together and make four new promises — promises not about breaking the shackles of Egyptian slavery, but about breaking the bonds of hunger. We do so standing together and calling for a better tomorrow, one in which we are all blessed to have bountiful and nutritious food for our families, our neighbors, our friends, and for all people.


1. We will work to ensure that everyone has access to enough nutritious food.
2. We will learn why—in a nation of such abundance—there are still millions of people who struggle with hunger.
3. We will urge our elected officials and community leaders to support effective public policies and prioritize ending hunger.
4. We will create a world where all Americans and all people are free from hunger.


As we prepare to drink our first cup of wine and make our first promise, we acknowledge that not everyone is able to feed their bodies with affordable nutritious food. Far too many people in our country simply do not have adequate resources to do that which so many take for granted: eat in a way that actually provides nourishment and sustenance. Our first cup of wine is our first promise:

ALL We will work to ensure that everyone has access to enough nutritious food.

LEADER We lift our glasses and read the blessings together (drink wine after the blessings):

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

LEADER We now say the She’hecheyanu prayer to give thanks for having an opportunity today to reflect on the problem of hunger and commit to action.

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam she’hecheyanu ve’kiyemanu ve’higianu la’zman ha’zeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

The washing of hands is a ritual of purification. We symbolically “wash away” apathy or indifference and prepare ourselves to reignite our passion for justice and our commitment to ending hunger. Later, we wash our hands again and say a blessing in preparation for the festive meal.

(The leader pours water—from a “washing cup” into a bowl—over each hand and then repeats the procedure, symbolically washing the hands for all those at the seder table. No blessing is recited at this time.)

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

Karpas is from the Greek word karpos, which means “fruit of the soil.” When spring comes we note with pleasure the bounty of vegetables and fruits in the market. Yet in communities and neighborhoods across the country, instead of a seasonal bounty there exists persistent scarcity.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program and the cornerstone of the federal nutrition safety net, providing vital assistance to tens of millions of Americans. SNAP works as a powerful and effective response to the widespread problem of food insecurity in the United States, subsidizing food purchases and lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Every year, too many people — including single mothers, veterans, military families, LGBTQ older adults, single mothers, and the people of Puerto Rico and Indian Country — face the painful dilemma of having to choose between paying for nutritious food or other basic needs like medical care, shelter, and heating. No American should ever have to make this impossible choice. Furthermore, Black, Indigenous and other communities of color face disproportionate rates of hunger, one manifestation of the compounding effects of systemic racism, immense inequity and myriad, ongoing disparities. Systemic barriers require systemic solutions.

The bottom line is that SNAP works — it has a proven track record of reducing hunger and poverty, improving health, contributing to educational performance and work productivity, supporting local economies, promoting work, and strengthening communities across the country.

We commit ourselves to strengthening and improving SNAP and all federal nutrition assistance programs to ensure that they not only reach every person who needs this vital assistance, but provide for them generously — because every person in our country deserves to feed themselves and their families with dignity. SNAP, and all federal nutrition assistance programs, should be protected from changes that would undermine their effectiveness — because ultimately, we’re working to ensure that no one in our country goes hungry.

We dip our green vegetable into salt water, a symbol of our ancestors’ tears and of the injustices for which we weep in our own day. Together we recite the blessing:

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri ha’adama.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, creator of the fruits of the earth. May the blessings of Your bountiful harvests be enjoyed by all of humankind.

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

(Leader breaks matzah and holds up the smaller broken piece. The larger piece is set aside as the Afikomen.)

LEADER: This broken matzah reminds us that our world is broken. We recall those who are poor, whose uncertainty about their future compels them to put aside the “broken half” for later use. We are shaken out of our complacency as we recall God’s words: “Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt.”

Through service to others, we meet the immediate needs of those who are struggling. But direct service can only alleviate some of the pain of hunger.

Charity alone is not the answer. The charitable sector provides important but insufficient resources to meet the substantial needs of those experiencing food insecurity in this country. Only the government has the capacity to solve a problem with the magnitude of hunger— and each of us carries the responsibility to see that goal brought to fruition.

We must amplify and learn from marginalized voices and the experiences of those who are left behind due to systemic failures. 

We must advocate for effective and enduring public policies that provide vital nutrition assistance to struggling families and individuals.

We must let the commandment tzedek, tzdek tirdof — “justice, justice you shall pursue” — be a drumbeat in our ears and drive our feet and direct our actions. Justice is the core of MAZON’s national approach to ending hunger.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

LEADER: The story of the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to liberation is the heart of the seder.

Ha Lachma Anya.

This is the bread of poverty.

ALL: This is the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need come and share our meal. This year we are here. Next year, may we all be in the land of Israel. This year we are still slaves. Next year may we all be free.

LEADER: We were slaves in Egypt and God brought us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. If God had not brought us out from Egypt, then we, our children, and our children’s children might still have been slaves in Egypt.

“If there is a moment in the seder that should leave us feeling self-conscious, it is now. ‘This is the bread of affliction,’ we read. True enough; matzah is the quintessential discomfort food.

But what follows is a problem: ‘All who are bent with hunger, come and eat.’

This invitation to the hungry seems empty... Could it be teaching us that this night, in one crucial way, is just like all other nights? On all other nights we eat to satisfaction, without a thought for the hungry stranger. Tonight we speak of hunger, but do nothing to alleviate it.”

- Excerpt by Jeffrey Goldberg from NEW AMERICAN HAGGADAH edited by Jonathan Safran Foer

-- Four Questions

LEADER: The Four Questions we ask at our Hunger Seder challenge us to consider what is different about this night. Only when we ask the right questions can we understand the causes of hunger and take action to end this unnecessary plight.

1 ALL Why during this seder do we focus on hunger?
The Passover seder celebrates liberation from bondage and the joy of freedom. But in communities across our country, millions of Americans struggle to put enough nutritious food on the table and are bound by the hardships of the circumstances, only exacerbated by the pandemic and economic downturn. As long as anyone continues to struggle with food insecurity, we will continue to dedicate this Hunger Seder to ending hunger and its causes.

2 ALL Why isn't it better for local charities to feed people, instead of the government?
Charitable organizations are not set up to feed every hungry person in their communities. Food pantries and meal programs were created to provide support during temporary or emergency situations, not to solve systemic problems. Many are open only a few days a week and for a few hours of each day. They are largely volunteer run, often out of basements or closets at their local houses of worship, and they primarily distribute food that has been donated from within their communities. They simply could never have the capacity to feed the number of people who need help. Government nutrition programs, on the other hand, have the ability to help millions of people get the food they need to lead healthy lives.

3 ALL What are the costs of hunger for our country?
Being hungry can be all-consuming and distracting, which in turn decreases productivity in working adults and negatively impacts the ability for unemployed individuals to find work. Seniors are particularly vulnerable when it comes to food insecurity and face serious health risks from nutritional deficiencies. Without sufficient food and proper nutrition, children are at a much greater risk for developmental problems, chronic health conditions, and poor academic performance, and face reduced prospects for economic and professional achievement later in life.

The many personal costs of hunger are magnified at the national level. In both the short and long term, having a substantial population of people struggling with hunger impedes our country’s economic prosperity for everyone.

4 ALL How could so many individuals and families still suffer from hunger when we live in a society of tremendous wealth?
The best adjective to accurately describe the amount of food available in the United States is abundant. Yet food insecurity affects astounding numbers of people in America. Hunger persists in this country not because of a lack of food, but because of a lack of political will. Now is the time to act and ensure that all people have access to affordable, nutritious food.


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 What lessons from our history should guide our nation's approach to ending hunger? 

A staggering number of Americans struggle to put food on the table, but that was not always the case. We can end hunger — and we almost did in the late 1960s when a robust government response led to 97% of households reporting food insecurity. Political winds and policy changes reversed that victory, leading to an over-reliance on an already overwhelmed charitable food network. But this does not need to be our future.

We can challenge false rhetoric with the reality of who experiences hunger in America and why. We can identify systemic injustices. We can confront the trend of blaming individuals for being poor. We can unleash the strongest tool we can wield to reduce hunger: the government, and the sweeping benefits it can provide.

This is our lesson. This is our work. And it is our celebration, too, when we ensure inclusive, equitable access to nutritious food for all those in need.

LEADER Our tradition demands that we ask questions, challenge the status quo, and work to create a more fair and equitable society. We were slaves, but now we are free. And with our freedom comes the responsibility to work for justice and freedom for all.

Avadim hayinu Ata b’nai chorin.

We were slaves – now we are free.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

On Passover, we read about the ten plagues God unleashed on the Egyptians. The plagues we see today, however, are not punishments from God, but ones of our own doing – because ending hunger is not a matter of resources, but of political will. As we read each of these plagues aloud, we dip a finger into the wine and touch a drop onto our plate. This reminds us that, even as we celebrate freedom, our freedom is not complete when anyone still experiences hunger.

(Dip your finger in your glass and place a drop of wine on the plate for each plague.)


  1. INDIFFERENCE, the failure to recognize food insecurity in our own communities

  2. SHAME, the undue burden we place on hungry people

  3. INDIGNITY, the failure to treat hungry people with the respect they deserve

  4. STEREOTYPING, the persistence of harmful misinformation about who is hungry

  5. ABSENCE, the lack of data showing the true scope of this problem

  6. HUMILIATION, the pain parents feel when they cannot provide enough food for their children

  7. FATIGUE, the exhaustion from the constant cycle of poverty and hunger

  8. ANXIETY, the lingering fear that SNAP benefits will not last the whole month

  9. BUREAUCRACY, the system that prevents rapid action on this issue

  10. APATHY, the greatest plague of all — the failure to make ending hunger a national priority

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

LEADER In the traditional Passover seder, we pause to reflect on what we have in our lives for which we are grateful and thank God for the miracles God performed. Let’s now recite aloud the blessings we enjoy. After each blessing, we take a moment to say together “Dayenu — it would have been enough.”

1. We are grateful that so many among us do not suffer from the oppression and hardship of daily hunger. Dayenu

2. We are grateful to live in a democracy and have the ability to influence our government’s priorities. Dayenu

3. We are grateful for the opportunity to direct national attention to the injustice of hunger and the heartbreaking stories of those impacted. Dayenu

4. We are grateful to those who use their hands to stock a food bank, their feet to march to Capitol Hill, and their voices to demand justice. Dayenu

5. We are grateful we made the time to be present for this Hunger Seder to educate ourselves and be inspired to act. Dayenu

6. We are grateful for each other – alone we are limited, but together we are powerful advocates for change. Dayenu

Day Day-enu, Day Day-enu, Day Day-enu Dayenu, Dayenu (x2)

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

LEADER Rabbi Gamliel taught that when we tell the story of the Exodus, we must also explain the meaning of the most important symbols: zeroah, matzah, and maror.
(Leader holds up each symbol as the designated portion is read.)
Zeroah is a roasted shank bone, which reminds us that the Israelites put lamb’s blood on their doors to escape the tenth plague, the slaying of the first born.
We eat matzah because there was not enough time for the Israelites to allow their dough to rise before they fled Egypt from slavery into freedom.
Maror are bitter herbs, reminding us how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites.

B’chol dor v’dor chayav adam lirot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatzah mi’Mitzrayim.
In every generation, we are obligated to view ourselves as if we were the ones who went out from Egypt.

At this Hunger Seder today, we recognize these traditional symbols as reminders of our obligation to work for the day when all people are free from the injustice and oppression of hunger. In every generation, we are obligated to view ourselves as if we were the ones who went out from Egypt, as it is said: And on that day tell your child, saying “For this purpose Adonai labored on my behalf, by taking me out of Egypt.” It was not our ancestors alone who were delivered by the Holy Blessed One— we were also delivered with them. We were there, and yet we are also here, part of the unfolding story of pursing justice in our own time. We retell and remember what was and at the same time we continue to shape what will be.

Who can say we’ve actually left? “Wherever you live, it is probably Egypt,” Michael Walzer wrote. Do you live in a place where some people work two and three jobs to feed their children, and others don’t even have a single, poorly paid job? Do you live in a community where the rich are fabulously rich, and the poor humiliated and desperate? Do you live in a place where some people are more equal than others?
America is a golden land, absolutely, and for Jews, it has been an ark of refuge. But it has not yet fulfilled its promise... The seder marks the flight from the humiliation of slavery to the grandeur of freedom, but not everyone has come on this journey... Aren’t we still commanded to bring everyone out of Egypt?
Excerpt by Jeffrey Goldberg from NEW AMERICAN HAGGADAH, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

LEADER The Second Cup represents our promise:

ALL We will learn why — in a nation of such abundance — there are still millions of people who struggle

with hunger.

The more we know about the reasons that people in our community experience food insecurity, the better able we will be to create solutions that will free them from this bondage.

LEADER We lift our glasses and read the blessing together (drink wine after the blessing):

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.


Once again we wash our hands, this time in anticipation of the festive meal. May this ritual act of hand washing, followed by a blessing, lead to other sacred acts of preparation and protest, advocacy and activism, so that all may find they have the nutritious food they need.

(Either have volunteers walk around to each table with a pitcher of water and a basin or invite seder guests to wash their hands in some other way.)

LEADER We join together in the blessing:

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam asher kideshanu be’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with God’s commandments and commanded us to wash our hands.

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

We thank God for providing us wheat to make bread. In doing so, God gives us the tools we need to sustain ourselves and our communities. We have the tools to create a hunger-free world. It is our responsibility to use these tools to create a more just society.

(Leader lifts up a piece of matzah and invites all to eat a piece of matzah after the blessing.)

LEADER We join together in the blessing over the matzah:

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

LEADER: Another important Passover symbol is maror, bitter herbs. Bitter herbs serve as a reminder of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers and mothers. When we eat these bitter herbs, we recognize the bitterness of servitude and oppression.

ALL: It is our obligation, as people and as members of this community, to do what we can to lighten the load of those less fortunate and to show compassion for all those who continue to face the oppression of hunger and its causes.

(Leader lifts up maror and invites all to eat a piece of maror after the blessing.)

LEADER: We join together in the blessing over the maror:

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam asher kideshanu be’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu al achilat maror.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with God’s commandments and commanded us to eat bitter herbs.

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

To carry out the instruction, “They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” (Numbers 9:11), the great sage Hillel would combine matzah and maror on Passover and eat them together. We eat a sandwich of matzah, maror, and charoset to remember both the bitterness and injustice of hunger and the redemptive sweetness that comes with working together to bring about real social change.

(The bottom matzah on the seder plate is broken and distributed. Each person takes two pieces of matzah and creates a sandwich with the charoset and maror.)

Shulchan Oreich
Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

If the event includes a festival meal, it should be served at this time. We encourage you to use the time while participants are eating to engage in discussion about hunger. Resources are available at

Source : Mazon: Hunger Seder

Afikomen comes from the Greek word for dessert and is the last item eaten during the seder. Traditionally, the Afikomen is hidden toward the beginning of the seder to keep children’s attention. When the meal is over, the seder’s younger participants search the house for the Afikomen.

This year, let us consider the search for the Afikomen as a symbol for the ongoing search for answers as to why so many in America are not able to eat healthy nutritious meals every day.

(Look for the Afikomen if it has been hidden earlier in the seder.)


LEADER After we’ve eaten, we share our gratitude for the nutritious food we found on our plates and the bountiful land from which it came. We bless You, Adonai, for the land and for the food it yields. It is our responsibility to make sure that every person gets the nutrition they need to thrive.

Baruch ata Adonai hazan et hakol.

Blessed are You Adonai, who provides food for all.

Kos Sh'lishi - The Third Cup

LEADER We drink the Third Cup to remember our promise:

ALL We will urge our elected officials and community leaders to support effective public policies and prioritize ending hunger.
We lift our glasses and read the blessing together (drink wine after the blessing):

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Kos Eliyahu - The Cup for Elijah
(Pass around Elijah’s cup and have all participants fill the cup with some wine from their own cups.)

Elijah’s cup sits on our table as a symbol of hope and the coming of the Messianic Age. It is a Passover tradition for each person to spill a little wine from their glass into Elijah’s cup, which has been empty for the entire seder. Through such collaborative effort we will build strong communities and create the change we wish for in our world.

Eliyahu hanavi. Eliyahu hatishbi. Eliyahu hagil’adi. Bim’hera be’yamaynu yavoh eleinu, im mashiach ben David.

May the Prophet Elijah come quickly in our day and bring the time of the Messiah.

Kos Miriam - Miriam's Cup
(Leader lifts Miriam’s cup.)

Elijah’s cup is one of a future promise. And yet there is still a long way to go until the day when all who are hungry will be able to come and eat. Jewish tradition teaches that Miriam the prophet is always with us, and her presence calls us to work for — not wait for — that day. Just as Miriam’s well sustained the Israelites in the wilderness, so too we pray that we be nourished and sustained on our journey toward justice and an end to hunger.

(Leader takes a sip of water from Miriam’s cup.)


LEADER Today we give thanks for the Passover story
And its enduring message of freedom and justice.

LEADER Today we give thanks for our individual blessings
And our commitment to increase blessing and nutrition for all.

LEADER Today we give thanks for the opportunity to gather
And lift our voices to speak out on behalf of those who are hungry.

LEADER Today we give thanks and act
So that no one goes hungry tomorrow.

Kos R'vi-i - The Fourth Cup

LEADER We drink the Fourth Cup to remember our promise:
ALL We will create a world where all Americans, and all people, are free from hunger.
We pray that, at this time next year, each of us will be free from the yoke of hunger and poverty, and further blessed with abundance.

LEADER We lift our glasses and read the blessing together (drink wine after the blessing):

Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu Melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.


Our seder is now coming to a close. We celebrate our blessings, yet acknowledge the hunger that still plagues far too many in our communities and affirm our commitment to work together to create a world without hunger.


This year we are here; next year in Jerusalem. This year we are pained by hunger; next year may all who are hungry come and eat.


For more than 36 years, MAZON has been committed to ensuring that vulnerable people have access to the resources they need to put food on the table. MAZON is a leading voice in the anti-hunger field, developing strategic initiatives focused on communities that are at particular risk of hunger and have often been overlooked, including currently serving military families, veterans, LGBTQ older adults, single mothers and the people of Puerto Rico and Indian country.

Our nation’s public policies have lasting effects on the lives of millions of people. By promoting systemic change at the federal, state, and local levels, MAZON seeks to ensure that our policymakers compassionately address the needs of the millions of Americans who struggle with hunger.

To learn more about MAZON, please visit

For Passover resources, including a Fifth Question Haggadah insert and action steps you can take now, please visit