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Introduction

(LEADER) Our Passover meal is called a sederwhich means “order” in Hebrew, because we go through 14 specific steps as we retell the story of our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. As we eat tonight, we remember the suffering our ancestors endured, the journey they took to be free, and we rejoice in our freedom today.

Kadesh

(Participant) Our seder starts with the first cup of wine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

(ALL)
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine.

(Participant) We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who chose us from all peoples and languages, and sanctified us with commandments, and lovingly gave to us special times for happiness, holidays and this time of celebrating the Holiday of Matzah, the time of liberation, reading our sacred stories, and remembering the Exodus from Egypt. For you chose us and sanctified us among all peoples. And you have given us joyful holidays. We praise God, who sanctifies the people of Israel and the holidays.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

(ALL)

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,
she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe
who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Drink the first glass of wine!

Urchatz

(Particpant) As we prepare for our Seder, we wash our hands.We will wash our hands twice tonight; once without a blessing and once with. This act serves to symbolically purify ourselves for the ceremony we are about to begin.

Karpas

(Participant)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.

(Participant)We now take a sprig of parsley, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. Wedip our parsley into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

(ALL)

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

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruits of the earth.

Yachatz

(Participant)There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. We wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, the guests will have to hunt for the afikomen in order to wrap up the meal… and win a prize.

(Participant)We eat matzah in memory of the quick flight of our ancestors from Egypt. As slaves, they had faced many false starts before finally being let go. So when the word of their freedom came, they took whatever dough they had and ran with it before it had the chance to rise, leaving it looking something like matzah.

(Leader holds up middle matzah)

(ALL)This is the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate Passover with us. This year we are here; next year we will be in Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free.

Pour second glass of wine.

-- Four Questions

(LEADER) The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. Traditionally, the youngest person at the seder asks four questions. These questions will be answered through our telling of the Passover story.

(Youngest Participant) Why is this night different from all other nights?

1. On all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah. Tonight we eat only matzah. Why?

2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but tonight we eat bitter herbs. Why?

3. On all other nights we aren't expected to dip our foods in others. Tonight we dip twice. Why?

4. On all other nights we eat either sitting normally. Tonight we recline. Why? 

-- Four Children

(Participant) As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child.

(Participant) The wise child asks, What are the laws that God commanded us?

This child understands that God has given us commandments that define how we live our lives. To this child we teach him or her to find meaning in today's world.

(Participant) The wicked child asks, What does this all mean to you?

This child takes himself out of the community. To this child we say,  “It is because of what God did for us in taking us out of Egypt.” 

(Participant) The simple child asks, What is this?

This child does not understand the meaning of Passover. To this child we say, “With a strong hand God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves.”

(Participant) What about the child who doesn't know how to ask a question?

To this child we tell the story of Passover, in the hopes that one day he or she will find their voice.

-- Exodus Story

(LEADER) Our story starts in ancient times, with Abraham. God had made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a frightening vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth."

(Participant) In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers grew, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by this great nation growing within their borders, so they enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, perhaps even building pyramids. The Egyptians feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and rebel. So Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned, to prevent the Israelites from overthrowing those who had enslaved them.

But God heard the cries of the Israelites. He sent down plagues upon the Egyptians to convince Pharaoh to free the slaves.

-- Ten Plagues

(Participant) As we remember the plagues God sent to help our people, we pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues.

Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.

(ALL) 
Blood: All the water turned to blood. Fish died in the rivers, and every Egyptian suffered terrible thirst.

Frogs:  Every inch of land was covered with frogs. They entered houses and bedrooms.

Lice: Lice infested every Egyptian's home. Man and beast scratched until their skin bled. 

Beasts: Wild animals roamed Egypt, destroying crops and land.

Pestilence: All beasts were struck down with deadly disease.

Boils: The skin of every Egyptian erupted in painful boils.

Hail: Hail rained down from the skies, crushing plants and houses. 

Locusts Swarms of locusts blotted out the sky and covered every inch of Egyptian earth.

Darkness: All lights were extinguished.  

Death of the Firstborn: Every Egyptian firstborn son died. 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

(Participant) 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. Dayeinu also reminds us that each of our lives is the cumulative result of many blessings, small and large.

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם, דַּיֵּנוּ

(ALL)

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.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

(Participant) We now take a minute to explain the symbols on our seder plate.

The shank bone represents the Pesach, the special lamb sacrifice made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. The holiday 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.

The bitter herbs remind of the bitterness of slavery, the life of hard labor our ancestors experienced in Egypt.

The charoset reminds us of the clay our ancestors used to build walls as slaves under the Pharaoh.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

(Leader)It is now time for the second cup of wine. But first, we recite a prayer that reminds us that we are connected to our ancestors.

בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

(ALL)

B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.

In every generation, everyone is obligated to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.

(Participant)The seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed; God redeemed us too along with them. That’s why the Torah says “God brought us out from there in order to lead us to and give us the land promised to our ancestors.”

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

(ALL)

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

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine.

Drink the second glass of wine!

Rachtzah

(Participant) 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. This time, we say a 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.

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who made us holy through obligations and commanded us to wash our hands.

Motzi-Matzah

(Participant) It is now time to begin eating. Before we do, we say a blessing for our food.

בְָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings bread from the land.

(Participant) We share the middle matzah among us. This symbolizes that no man is better than another.

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.

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who made us holy through obligations and commanded us to eat matzah.

Distribute and eat the top and middle matzah for everyone to eat.

Maror

(Participant)In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet, but we recognize that the sweet means more when layered over the bitter. We first eat only the maror with the charoset, and then we eat the maror and charoset together on the matzah. This symbolizes the journey from slavery to freedom.

ברוּךְ אַתָּה יְיַָ 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.

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe,who made us holy through obligations andcommanded us to eat bitter herbs.

Koreich

(Leader) Before dinner is served, we must remember our slavery and celebrate our freedom. We do the by mixing the sweet charoset with the bitter maror to remind us of the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of freedom. We must never forget that while we are free, not everyone enjoys the same freedom.

[Everyone places charoset and maror on matzoh and eats]

Koreich

(Participant) We have answered the four traditional questions, but there are still more questions to be answered.
There are other special foods on our Seder plate:

a bone (z'roa), a roasted egg (beitsah), and an orange (tappuz).

Why are they here?

(Participant) Z'ROA - SHANKBONE OR BEET

Z'ROA can mean a shankbone - the bone of a forelimb 
This lamb's bone is the symbol of the ancient shepherd's festival of Pesah or Passover.

It was celebrated at the time of the full moon in the month lambs and goats were born. At that time, each family would sacrifice a young lamb or goat at a spring feast. Jews ended these sacrifices when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed.

Since z'roa also means vegetable, a beet can be used instead of an animal bone on the seder plate.
The Jewish people are very diverse, so the rabbis who wrote the Talmud acknowledged this vegetarian alternative.

(Participant) BEITSAH - EGG

Why do we have a beitsah on the seder plate?
Beitsah is the egg of life, a symbol of the birth of the young in spring. Each of us begins as an egg and grows to adulthood. The egg reminds us of our evolutionary past and of the gifts of human inheritance. But the egg is fragile. It represents potential that can be destroyed. Left alone, its life would perish.

Growing life needs warmth and love and security, guidance, hope, and vision. To achieve their full potential, human beings need the support and encouragement of family and community. Beitsah symbolizes the fragility and interdependence of life.

[All who so desire may now eat a piece of egg.]

(Participant) TAPPUZ - ORANGE

Why have we added an orange to our seder plate?
We place this fruit among our ceremonial foods as a symbol of our efforts to make sexual minorities feel acknowledged in our community. We recognize the contributions made by these family members and friends.

By inviting and welcoming all with open hearts and open minds, we celebrate diversity and freedom. We put an orange on our seder plate as a new symbol of liberation around sexuality and gender roles. As we take a segment of the orange,we will make the blessing over fruit that grows on trees and eat the segment. We do this in recognition of gay and lesbian Jews and of widows, orphans, Jews who are adopted, interfaith couples and families and all others who sometimes feel marginalized in the Jewish community.

(Participant) When we eat that orange segment, we spit out the seeds to repudiate homophobia and we recognize that in a whole orange, each segment sticks together. Oranges are sweet and juicy and remind us of the fruitfulness of gay and lesbian Jews and of the homosociality that has been such an important part of Jewish experience, whether of men in yeshivas or of women in the Ezrat Nashim.

(ALL) Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam, borai p'ri haetz.

Blessed are you, our God, Creator of the Universe, who has creaed the good fruit of the tree.

[All may eat a piece of orange.]

Shulchan Oreich
Tzafun

(LEADER) The playfulness of finding the afikomen reminds us that we balance our solemn memories of slavery with a joyous celebration of freedom. The meal cannot continue until the afikomen is found. Once it is brought to the leader, we split it up and enjoy it together. As we eat the afikomen, our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for moments of silliness and happiness in our lives.

Bareich

Refill everyone’s wine glass.

(Participant) We now say grace after the meal, thanking God for the food we’ve eaten. On Passover, this becomes something like an extended toast to God, culminating with drinking our third glass of wine for the evening:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

(ALL)

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 third glass of wine!

Hallel

(Participant) We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet Elijah to join our seder.

In the Torah, Elijah was a fierce defender of God to a disbelieving people. At the end of his life, rather than dying, he was whisked away to heaven. Tradition holds that he will return to herald a new era of peace, so we set a place for Elijah in the hopes that he will find us worthy.

Hallel

(Participant) As we come to the end of the seder, we drink one more glass of wine. With this final cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that help inform our daily lives and guide our actions and aspirations.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

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

Blessed art Thou, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine.

Drink the fourth and final glass of wine!

Nirtzah

(Leader) Nirtzah marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories, 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!”

For some people, the recitation of this phrase expresses the anticipation of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and the return of the Messiah. For others, it is an affirmation of hope and of connectedness with   the whole of the Jewish community. Still others yearn for peace in Israel.

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.

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 Israel and all the people of the world, especially those impacted by natural tragedy and war. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

(ALL)

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!