The long history of our people is one of contrasts — freedom and slavery, joy and pain, power and helplessness. Passover reflects these contrasts. Tonight as we celebrate our freedom, we remember the slavery of our ancestors and realize that many people are not yet free.
Each generation changes — our ideas, our needs, our dreams, even our celebrations. So has Passover changed over many centuries into our present
holiday. Our nomadic ancestors gathered for a spring celebration when the sheep gave birth to their lambs. Theirs was a celebration of the continuity of life. Later, when our ancestors became farmers, they celebrated the arrival of spring in their own fashion. Eventually these ancient spring festivals merged with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and became a new celebration of life and freedom.
As each generation gathered around the table to retell the old stories, the symbols took on new meanings. New stories of slavery and liberation, oppression and triumph were added, taking their place next to the old. Tonight we add our own special chapter as we recall our people’s past and we dream of the future.
For Jews, our enslavement by the Egyptians is now remote, a symbol of communal remembrance. As we sit here in the comfort of our modern world, we think of the millions who still suffer the brutality of the existence that we escaped thousands of years ago.
Welcome to Our Seder
Today is the Jewish people's birthday
and the rebirth of personal freedom for each individual.
Tonight is a journey of rediscovery: to relive slavery and poverty,
and then to experience liberation and taste abundance.
Eating together = we become a community of caring for each other's needs.
Reading, discussing and arguing = we become a community of learners.
Asking questions and telling stories = we become a community of memory.
Playing and acting = we become a community of imagination.
Praying together = we become a community of hope, willing to take a stand.
Singing together = we become a community of joy and appreciation.
Join in, take part, feel free to ask, to add (and to skip)...
No matter your background, no matter your age, no matter your knowledge.
Feel free to make this Seder your own.
Tonight we gather together to celebrate Passover, our holiday of freedom. We will eat a great meal together, enjoy (at least!) four glasses of wine, and tell the story of our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. We welcome our friends and family members from other backgrounds to reflect with us on the meaning of freedom in all our lives and histories. We will consider the blessings in our lives, pledge to work harder at freeing those who still suffer, and begin to cast off the things in our own lives that oppress us.
As we get started, get comfortable! Find a pillow to help you recline. In ancient times, eating while lounging on a pillow or couch was a sign of freedom. We anticipate this seder should take about a half hour from start to dinner. Enjoy!
The Ballad of the Four Sons(to the tune of "Clementine") wriiten by Ben Aronin in 1948
Said the father to his children,
"At the seder you will dine,
You will eat your fill of matzah,
You will drink four cups of wine."
Now this father had no daughters,
But his sons they numbered four.
One was wise and one was wicked,
One was simple and a bore.
And the fourth was sweet and winsome,
he was young and he was small.
While his brothers asked the questions
he could scarcely speak at all.
Said the wise one to his father
"Would you please explain the laws?
Of the customs of the seder
Will you please explain the cause?"
And the father proudly answered,
"As our fathers ate in speed,
Ate the paschal lamb 'ere midnight
And from slavery were freed."
So we follow their example
And 'ere midnight must complete
All the seder and we should not
After 12 remain to eat.
Then did sneer the son so wicked
"What does all this mean to you?"
And the father's voice was bitter
As his grief and anger grew.
"If you yourself don't consider As son of Israel,
Then for you this has no meaning
You could be a slave as well."
Then the simple son said simply "What is this," and quietly
The good father told his offspring
"We were freed from slavery."
But the youngest son was silent
For he could not ask at all.
His bright eyes were bright with wonder
As his father told him all.
My dear children, heed the lesson
and remember evermore
What the father told his children
Told his sons that numbered four.