Holidays / Passover / Passover Readings

Passover Readings

Olives on our Seder plate this year, for peace in Ukraine

-Author Unknown

First line: We have olives on the Seder plate this year because according to the story of Noah and the ark, God was on the verge of destroying humanity because we were a mess. Last line: The tragedy of lives ruined and the trauma that will live on for generations is heavy in the air, like smoke from the bombs and fires that burn nearby.

Especially This Year, A Prayer For Our Country

-Adapted from Rabbi Ayelet Cohen

Chances are, if you are reading this for your family’s reunion or Thanksgiving celebration, you are living in the US and to be honest, your country could use a prayer right now. But, this reading is not specifically for the US, in fact, there probably isn’t a country in the world that could not use a little or lot of prayer right now. This one is a beauty.

First line: Our God and God of our ancestors, bless this country and all who dwell within it. Last line: Let justice well up like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Amen…

Question For Discussion (as if the Seder wasn't long enough already)

-A JewBelong Original

First line: Each year we ask the traditional four questions. Last line: There are no wrong answers, just a chance to think more deeply about the way we conduct our lives…

Ruth's Mix

-Inspired by Rabbi Janet Marder

So here is the thing, half of the Jewish families that we know are headed by a couple where one of them is not Jewish. And we think eureka! That is great! Why isn’t there a blessing for that person who is not Jewish but participating in a Jewish home/life! And… there is! And we love it and hope you do too!

First line: Ruth, as in The Book Of, as in the great-grandmother of King David, was part of an interfaith marriage. Last line: With all our hearts, we want to thank you for your love and willingness in giving the ultimate gift to the Jewish people. Amen…

The Elephant At Your Passover Seder

-A JewBelong Original

First line: There’s an elephant in the room, he’d like some attention and frankly, he should get it. Last line: We’ve already learned the bitter lesson that true hate is never little, it is never unimportant, and it should never, ever be ignored…

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…

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…


Passover Remembered

-Alla Bozarth-Campbell

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. Bring only your determination to serve and your willingness to be free. Last line: I am with you now and I am waiting for you…

The 14 Steps Of The Seder

-Author Unknown

The Passover meal is called a Seder which means order in Hebrew. This is the list of all 14 parts in the right order! If you are wondering… wait, if I don’t do all 14 steps, is it still a Seder? Well… yes. But the truth is, many of the steps are quick and painless and you can get through our ENTIRE JewBelong Haggadah in an hour and 15 minutes. Promise.

First line: Our Passover meal is called a Seder, which means order in Hebrew, because we go through 14 specific steps as we retell the story of our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. Last line: 14. Ending the Seder and thinking about the future – NIRTZAH…

A Time Of Remembering

-Author Unknown

When we remember the Exodus, we also remember the six million Jews across Europe who were killed during the Holocaust.

First line: On this Seder night, we recall with anguish and love our martyred brothers and sisters, the six million Jews of Europe who were destroyed at the hands of a tyrant more fiendish than Pharoah. Last line: We will teach our children and our children’s children to remember them with reverence and with pride…

Bashert (Destiny)

-Irena Klepsisz

Don’t miss this one! It’s about the humanity in all of us and the mystery of destiny. And that plain old good or bad luck played an enormous role during the Holocaust. This reading is especially good if it is read around the table with one person reading every stanza, and the entire group reading the lines in capital letters.


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…

This Year We Are Slaves

-Author Unknown

A blunt reminder that none of us can truly be free while there is still so much suffering in the world.

First line: “This year we are slaves.” Last line: If these things be so, who among us can say that he or she is free?

What Happens To Them Happens To Me

-Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham J. Heschel

We love that this reading is by Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham J. Heschel because it hearkens back to a time when African Americans and Jews were more closely aligned in their fight for justice and equality. It’s no surprise that with all the toxicity happening in the world, that that feeling has been poisoned by those looking to divide. This responsive reading reminds us that even with the bigotry and prejudice and basically, “ugh” that exists in the world, there is still hope for peace.

First line: Prejudice is like a monster which has many heads, an evil which requires many efforts to overcome.  Last line: I believe there will be a better world…

The Four Sons

-Author Unknown

Once upon a time there was a wise son, a wicked son, a simple son and one who didn’t even know how to ask the question. Clearly this was not a terribly evolved family, but this reading is a traditional part of the Passover Seder.

First line: As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Last line: Start telling the story: “It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”…

The Modern Four Sons

-A JewBelong Original

Every year, this reading provokes discussion. So, if that is your thing, include it. We do.

First line: Following is a new interpretation of The Four Sons that illustrates the journey of many Jews living in America. Last line: Let’s work together to invite everyone who is disengaged from their Judaism, back to our sometimes dysfunctional, often confusing, but always loving community…

The Ten Plagues

-Author Unknown/A JewBelong Original

Freedom for the Israelites came with a hefty price for the Egyptians. In order to honor their suffering, for they were human too, we say each of the 10 plagues out loud, one at a time. As we do, we dip our finger in our wine glass and take out a drop of wine for each plague, thus giving up a bit of our own sweetness. Traditionally, you are not supposed to lick your finger when you are done.  

First line: As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. Last line: ANTI-JEWISH HATRED…

A Contemporary Dayeinu

-Author Unknown

This is a great reading! Please don’t miss it. It’s a modern take on the traditional Passover song, Dayeinu, but it’s focused on the issues that need attention in the world today. The best way is to have each person read a line and then everyone says “Dayeinu” together out loud.

First line: Let’s bring Dayeinu into the present. Last line: All: If tonight each person could say this year I worked as hard as I could toward my goals for improving this world, so that one day all people can experience the joy and freedom I feel sitting with my family and friends at the Seder table… DAYEINU, DAYEINU…

Who Knows One? (Echad Mi Yodea?)

-Author Unknown

Okay, this reading doesn’t look like much but it’s great! The leader assigns 13 people… each read one line, the same one each time, but each time, someone else gets added, (starting with “One is our God…” through “Thirteen are the attributes…”). The tricky part is that you start the reading from the top 13 times, each time adding the next line. (In other words, the reader with the first line reads every round, so 13 times, and the reader with the last line only reads once.) Go as fast as you can!

First line: Who knows one? Last line: One is our God in heaven and earth…


What Is Freedom?

-Lewis John Eron

This short reading about whether being free is really that much different today than it was all those years ago.

First line: When did we leave Egypt and when did Egypt leave us? Last line: Freedom is choosing good rules to live by and freedom is singing our very own song…

Passover Short But Sweet

-Multiple Authors

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