Seder 2021: Timeless Story, New Traditions

Passover offers us the chance to learn in multiple ways and think about some of our most important Jewish values. The ideas of moving from slavery to freedom and welcoming the stranger, because we were once strangers ourselves, are inherent in the celebration of this festival. How we pass on these ideas is almost as important as the messages themselves. As a community of lifelong learners, we offer some suggestions to help bring new meaning for all generations to this year’s seder.

Encourage questions. Include a timer on the table and don’t let more than five minutes pass without someone asking a question.

Have each person sign their Haggadah. Each year, you can look back to recall funny stories and memories of guests who have been at your seder in the past.

Make a new Haggadah with your family. Assign everyone a page or section before the seder; adults and teenagers can be responsible for the text and children for the drawings. Then, collect and collate each section and make enough copies for all your participants.

Have more than one version of the Haggadah at your seder. While most Haggadot have the same essential elements, they may phrase sections differently, have specific themes, or include additional discussion questions. Looking at the differences can help bring out more questions. As the seder leader, encourage people to explain what strikes them about the differences.

Ask people to think about the seder before the seder. Assign everyone a section of the Haggadah to study before they arrive, and ask participants to bring readings or questions to the group – either factual or spiritual in nature – depending on which section of the Haggadah they were assigned.

Bring in props. Make an appointment to shop at the Women of WHC’s Judaica Shop (judaicashop@whctemple.org or 301-354-3220), buy them online, or make your own with your family before the seder. Be creative, and remember, props don’t necessarily have to be only for the plagues. You can give your whole house a Jewish/Egyptian theme!

Update your seder plate. Plenty of new seder ideas have cropped up over the last few years, like the modern seder plate additions on pages 12 and 13. Whether or not you decide to incorporate them, learning about them can open the door for questions and conversation.

Enliven your seder experience with musical instruments. Encourage people to bring rhythm instruments such as tambourines or egg shakers. Communicate in ways other than through speech!

Make Passover “question cookies” for dessert. Create them by tying together two pieces of chocolate-covered matzah with a colorful ribbon. In between the matzah, include a note – a Jewish fact, a wish for the coming year, or a silly joke. Pass them out to participants and have everyone open and read theirs aloud.