Hosting A Passover Seder

How can I host my first Seder?

Though it may seem daunting to organize your own Seder, it is a wonderfully satisfying experience. And the best part? If you host a Seder, you get to decide what type of Seder you would like to have, from the texts you use and the songs you sing, to the food you serve and the customs you follow. Hosting a Seder is a great way to meld creativity with a moral purpose, and you can even hold a themed Seder according to where your heart resides, be it feminist, kid-friendly, human rights focused, or anything else. As the Seder touches on themes of universal relevance, chiefly freedom and slavery, it is a great medium through which to channel your own passions and interests. Take advantage of all the great resources we have at and elsewhere on the web or within your local Jewish community to arm yourself with information and ideas. 

What can I do to prepare for the Seder?

It is a great idea to try to tap someone who has already been to and preferably hosted or helped to run a Seder so you have some guidance and support. But even if you don’t have access to direct help, remember that the real key to a successful Seder is preparation. It doesn’t have to include dress rehearsals, but it is a good idea to decide who is going to do what and when. Invite your invitees to participate, even giving them open assignments, such as talking about what different aspects of the Exodus story mean to them. Finally, make sure you have enough copies ready of any texts you want your guests to see or read, especially Haggadot. And don’t forget to take any language barriers into account. There are free translations of all of the traditional texts and lyrics and many newer ones used at the Seder in many different languages, along with transliterations of the Hebrew and Aramaic texts, if you are going to be asking your guests to read along with those. 

Can I invite non-Jewish friends to my Passover Seder?

It really depends on who you ask. Some Orthodox Jews will have halachic (Jewish legal) issues with non-Jews attending their Seder due to various prohibitions dating from earlier eras where intermingling between Jews and non-Jews was uncommon outside of business interactions. For example, while Jews are allowed to cook on Jewish holidays (unlike on Shabbat, when all cooking is prohibited), only Jews may partake of the food cooked during these days of the year. There are also several halachic complications regarding the teaching of Torah to non-Jews. 

That said, outside of strictly Orthodox communities, it is very common for people from all walks of life to attend and participate in a Passover Seder. Nowadays, many rabbis not only approve of but even encourage opening our doors to the broader community. It’s up to you! 

Today, there are at least two strong arguments in favor of inviting non-Jews to a Seder. Firstly, we live in a world that is more interconnected than ever, and it could be argued that we should all do our part toward promoting and expanding intercommunity dialogue and seeking the many ways in which we can relate to one another as fellow human beings. In this way, we can better fulfill the Bible’s most important injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves. What better way to accomplish this than to engage in open discussion about the human right to freedom, something all people everywhere value, long for, and uphold? 

Secondly, the very Exodus story is itself about the treating of the “other” as an outsider, a lesser being, someone who can justifiably be subjected to a second set of rules to their detriment, effectively ending in their loss of freedom. Just as we thank God at the Seder for freeing us from Egyptian bondage and delivering us to freedom in the Land of Israel, we can also identify in the Seder a chance to celebrate not just our own freedom but freedom in a broader sense, extending an invitation to all our family and friends, Jewish or not, and celebrating our common liberty as citizens of democratic nations where our rights derive from our basic humanity, rather than from any particular racial, religious, political or other affiliation. If we are to be a light unto the nations, we must share what we have learned from our so often harsh experience throughout the millennia, shining the wisdom we have gleaned outward so that anyone with open eyes and an open mind might benefit from it.