Seder Night – The Basics

Quick Guide to Seder

The Passover Seder (/ˈseɪdər/ (Hebrew: סֵדֶר [ˈsedeʁ] ‘order) is a ritual feast that includes reading a book called “the Haggadah” (“ the telling”) drinking four glasses of wine or grape juice, telling stories, eating symbolic food placed on the Passover Plate, singing, and other Passover traditions including reclining in celebration of freedom. Every family has its own particular traditions.

The Seder is the most commonly celebrated of Jewish rituals. While many Jewish holidays revolve around the synagogue, the Seder is conducted in the family home. The Seder is integral to Jewish faith and identity: as explained in the Haggadah, if not for divine intervention and the Exodus, the Jewish people would still be slaves in Egypt. Therefore, the Seder is an occasion for praise and thanksgiving and for re-dedication to the idea of liberation. Furthermore, the words and rituals of the Seder are a primary vehicle for the transmission of the Jewish faith from grandparent to child, and from one generation to the next. Attending a Seder and eating matza on Passover is a widespread custom in the Jewish community, even among those who are not religiously observant

As per Biblical command, it is held after nightfall on the first night of Passover (and the second night if you live outside of Israel), the anniversary of our nation’s miraculous exodus from Egyptian slavery more than 3,000 years ago. This year the first seder night falls on Wednesday 8th April

What Do I Need For A Seder

  • Wine or grape juice, enough for 4 cups per person
  • 3 unbroken sheets of matzah
  • Symbolic foods for the Seder Plate
    • Vegetable (traditions include parsley, slice of potato, slice of onion)
    • Salt water
    • Bitter herbs (traditionally horseradish (raw, not sauce), chicory/endive, lettuce hearts)
    • Charoset (a sweet paste; traditions vary but ingredients may include apple, dates, ground almonds, cinnamon, honey, and wine)
    • Boiled Egg slightly burnt
    • A Roasted bone (usually the neck of a chicken)
  • A Haggadah

There are many Haggadot available to download from the internet, with commentaries ranging from the traditional to the political.

Ashkenazi text in Hebrew and English is:
www.sefaria.org/Pesach_Haggadah%2C_Kadesh?lang=bi

Sefardi text (Edot Mizrach) at:
www.sefaria.org/Pesach_Haggadah_Edot_Hamizrah%2C_Kadesh?lang=bi

Reform text at:
www.reformjudaism.org.uk/online-haggadah/

Liberal text at:
https://www.liberaljudaism.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Emergency-Haggadah_Pesach-2020_Final.pdf

 

There are many online guides to and advice about the seder including:

 

Order of Service

  1. Kadeish קדש –
    recital of Kiddush blessing and drinking of the first cup of wine
  2. Urchatz ורחץ –
    the washing of the hands
  3. Karpas כרפס –
    dipping of the karpas in salt water
  4. Yachatz יחץ –
    breaking the middle matzo; the larger piece becomes the afikoman
  5. Maggid מגיד –
    retelling the Passover story, including the recital of “the four questions” and drinking of the second cup of wine
  6. Rachtzah רחצה –
    second washing of the hands
  7. Motzi מוציא, Matzo מצה –
    blessing before eating matzo
  8. Maror מרור –
    eating of the maror
  9. Koreich כורך –
    eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror
  10. Shulchan oreich שלחן עורך –
    “set table” – the serving of the holiday meal
  11. Tzafun צפון –
    eating of the afikoman
  12. Bareich ברך –
    blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine
  13. Hallel הלל –
    recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals; drinking of the fourth cup of wine
  14. Nirtzah נירצה –
    say “Next Year in Jerusalem!”