Passover offers countless ways to celebrate freedom and think about the future... and it's observed at home. No wonder it's the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday! First, let’s get the terms straight... Passover is the name of the eight-day holiday. The Seder is like a fantastic dinner party, with delicious food and thought-provoking conversation built in (not to mention plenty of singing and wine). The Haggadah is the guidebook, kind of like a script, for the Seder.

Go big and print the whole Haggadah. It's worth the hour.

Passover, when working like a slave wasn't a metaphor.

When Is Passover?

Eight Days Of Matzah...

Passover 2019 starts at sundown on Friday, April 19th and ends at sundown on Saturday, April 27th. Yeah, that seems like a lot of time to us too. Traditionally there are two Seders, one on the first night and one on the second. The rest of the eight days is when you stay away from bread and close to matzah. The two Seders are exactly the same except that the chicken soup tastes better the second day. The reason for two Seders has to do with the moon, and the calendar, and that the rabbis weren’t exactly sure which night it started in the Diaspora, so they decided we should cover our bases and celebrate Passover twice. True story.

The Passover Seder, where you learn the history of our people. And that Pop Pop can't read.

About Passover

What's Passover Anyway?

Passover is when we celebrate the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery by retelling the story of Exodus at a Seder. If you’ve ever seen the classic movie The Ten Commandments staring a ripped Charlton Heston or A Rugrats Passover, you probably know the story.

The name Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) comes from the last of the 10 plagues, when the firstborn children of the Egyptians were killed while the Angel of Death literally passed over the Jewish homes. Brutal for sure, but it was the only way to get Pharaoh to release the Jews from slavery (you’d think hail and locusts, etc. would’ve been enough, but the guy really hung on).

Why open the door? Because Elijah doesn't come down the chimney.

What's A Seder?

The Most Fun You Can Possibly Have In Five Hours

So many Seders are as dull as a piece of plain matzah, but leading a kick-ass Seder is both highly do-able and super important. There are 14 steps to the Seder. The steps help us retell the story of Exodus, which is when the Jews fled slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, across the desert to their ultimate freedom in the land that was supposed to be flowing with milk and honey, aka: the promised land, aka: Israel. Retelling the story is also meant to take us through our own experience of slavery and pain and to think about what holds us back from freedom in our own lives. We open the door to peace when we welcome Elijah the prophet; we honor women with Miriam’s cup; and we give thanks to people who are Jewish through choice or marriage or spirit with Ruth’s Blessing. This is all explained in detail in our Haggadah so that friends and family at your Seder table who are not Jewish — or who are but didn’t get much Jewish education or maybe need a refresher — won’t feel left out or confused or jewbarrassed.

Looking back, Pharaoh thinks, "I really should have just let them go."

Hosting?

Lead A Kick-Ass, Jewbarrassment-free Seder!

Hosting a Seder is a lot like throwing an awesome dinner party with props and a set agenda. It includes lots of drinking and eating and singing, which generally makes for happy guests. And you don’t have to worry about what to serve or whether your guests will find anything to talk about. The Seder will keep them busy, and since most of the food is traditional, menu planning is a snap. Just remember that making the Passover story come to life for your guests matters more than the matzah balls. What if it’s the only Jewish experience some of your guests have the entire year? It’s your job to inspire them with some fun and spirituality. Yes, that’s a lot of pressure, but you’re up to it! (Plus, we’ve got you covered with these steps for a Kick-Ass Seder.)

Side note for hosts: We’re not sure whose genius idea it was to ask the littlest kid at the table to recite the Four Questions, in Hebrew no less, but if you’re planning to go with tradition, make sure to check in with the kid or the parent first. Clearly, we’re projecting, but some of us at JewBelong still remember the anxiety we felt when it was our turn.

Lead a kick-ass Seder

Gefilte fish: We don't know what's in it either.

Food

So. Much. Matzah.

Passover is a big food holiday, with many traditional foods and one big “don’t.” The don’t is bread or any leavened food. That leaves lots of other foods to eat though, starting with matzah — which includes matzah balls, matzah brei, matzah kugel… you get the picture.

Hard boiled eggs, green herbs dipped in saltwater, horseradish and matzah and charoset sandwiches help us experience the Passover story.

Another traditional Seder dish is gefilte fish, which is like a cold ground fish mousse. (You either love it or you don’t.) Many families will also have the kinds of foods they’d normally eat at Thanksgiving at their Seder, minus the stuffing, obviously.

Keeping kosher for passover means not eating bread or other leavened foods, but there are way more rules than that, like not even having foods with leaven in their homes. Many people keep kosher for Passover the whole eight days of the holiday. For families with little kids a dramatic part of Passover preparation is searching for the last traces of chametz in the dark using just a candle to find any lingering crumbs. There are lots more rules and activities like that. Google them if you’re ready to take a deeper dive.

Passover, the keto diet with prayers.

Holy Baby Moses!

Wrap a baby doll in a small blanket. Place it in a basket. Garnish with some straw.
Ta-da! It’s baby Moses in his basket!

No Seder is complete without a Baby Moses Centerpiece!

Red Sea Centerpiece!

1) Fill a shallow serving dish with red Jell-o and let set.
2) Create two areas of "land" on each side, using whatever items you have handy. (Go nuts! Literally. Use nuts, matzah, kichel, macaroons - literally anything works.)
3) Finish by adding figurines to represent Moses and the Israelites.
4) Too extra? We don't think so!

Get in touch with your 7th grade diorama skills in a few easy steps!

Burning Bush

A Passover drinking game!

Every time you hear the name Moses, do a shot of Fireball. Recline as needed.

Get it? Fireball = burning bush? :)

Passover Readings

On This Night

-Author Unknown

We love this reading! Try having one person do the “On this night” and the rest of the table read responsively all of the other lines all together.

First line: We retrace our steps from then to now, reclaiming years of desert wandering. Last line: We journey from now to then, telling the story of freedom…

 

As We Begin Tonight's Seder

-Author Unknown

Start your Seder with this short reading. It might sound corny, but push through and do it anyway. It will get everyone’s attention and help them to make sacred time and space.

First line: Let’s take a moment to be thankful for being together. Last line: Next year in the land of Israel…

Passover Remembered

-Author Unknown

Dim the lights or ask everyone to close their eyes for a moment and pretend it’s the original Passover. You are all about to escape from Egypt. Envision yourself in rags. Feel the warm, dusty breeze of the desert on your skin. Then read out loud.

First line: Pack nothing. Last line: I am with you now and I am waiting for you…

Memories After My Death

-Yair Lapid

Yair Lapid is an Israeli politician and wonderful author. This breathtaking reading is an excerpt from his book, Memories After My Death. It’s a true story about his dad, Tommy Lapid.

First line: They marched us down the length of Pozohony Street, toward the Margaret Bridge and that was when we understood they were bringing us to the edge of the Danube, where they would shoot us and leave us to die under the ice. Last line: I am certain that he did not forget…

See All 16 Passover Readings

From the traditional to some that you haven't seen before.

Passover Songs

Take Us Out Of Egypt

-Author Unknown

Sing to the tune of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” Quick, easy and fun!

First line: Take us out of Egypt, free us from slavery. Last line: For it’s ten plagues, down and you’re out at the Pesach game…

There's No Seder Like Our Seder

-Author Unknown

Sing to the tune of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Guaranteed to have everyone at the table smiling.

First line: There’s no Seder like our Seder, like no Seder I know. Last line: Let’s go on with the show!…

Our Passover Things

-Author Unknown

Sing to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

First line: Cleaning and cooking and so many dishes. Last line: We simply remember our Passover things and then we don’t feel so bad…

Passover Round

-Author Unknown

Sing to the tune of “Frère Jacques.” Do it in a round just like in fifth grade French class!

First line: Roasted shankbone. Last line: Bitter herbs…

See All 10 Passover Songs

They had to rush on Passover. You shouldn't.

Passover Prayers And Blessings

Candle Lighting

-Author Unknown

Don’t miss this one. You are supposed to light the candles anyway on Passover and this reading is a notch above. It includes an introduction to bring attention to our quest for truth, social justice, and peace.

First line: READER: The day ends. The earth turns from sunshine to dusk and then to darkness. Last line: We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who has made us distinct through your directives and has directed us to kindle [the Shabbat] and holiday lights…

Woman's Prayer At Candle Lighting

-Author Unknown

An additional candle blessing for women to read. It’s sweet.

First line: May you grant my family and all Israel a good and long life. Last line: Let the light of Your face shine upon us. Amen…

Kiddush (Blessing Over The Wine)

-Author Unknown

Kiddush, the traditional blessing over the wine, is said as we fill the first of four cups of wine. We also add in Shehecheyanu, a blessing said during celebrations, to say thank you for bringing us to this happy moment.

First line: Fill your cup with the first glass of wine, lift the cup, say the Kiddush, and drink, leaning to the left. Last line: We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment…

Four Questions

-Author Unknown

There are two kinds of kids: ones who love reciting The Four Questions and those who break into a cold sweat at the mere thought of it. If you have the first kind, then carry on. If you have the second, like we did, then for God’s sake, figure this out before the Seder and so your child doesn’t get Passover ambushed.  The Questions are usually asked by the youngest person at the table. There is a sweet tune that the four questions is sung in when they are done in Hebrew, and if the kids at the table know it, then do that. If not, English is fine. Or maybe the whole table sings the Hebrew together. You guys decide. Just don’t JewBarrass anyone.

First line: The telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with questions and answers. Last line: Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?…

See All 14 Passover Prayers And Blessings

So. Much. Wine.

Passover Skit

Maggid: The Story Of Passover

-A JewBelong Original

Whether you’ve heard the Passover story 87 times or this is your first time through, you NEED this skit. It tells the Passover story in a way that everyone will love (and seriously, who doesn’t love a skit?) but more importantly, friends and family at your Seder table who are not Jewish – or who are Jewish but didn’t get a lot of Jewish education – will never feel left out or confused or…JewBarrassed. Think about who to assign roles to in advance. You will notice that we tell you at the very beginning how many lines each part has. We do the skit around the table so no need for props or staging. But if you want to go full on staging, go for it!

First line: What If God Hadn’t Taken Our Ancestors Out Of Egypt? Last line:  In the meantime, Happy Passover!…

See Passover Skit

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