Creating an Inclusive Seder

Black man smiling and talking with white woman at Passover table

This Passover, as we invite people into our homes after two years of virtual events, here are a few suggestions for how our seders and their messages can be fully welcoming — not just to those who share our tables, but to the greater community.

  • Introduce Yourselves Using Pronouns If you have new people at your seder, introduce yourself and include your pronouns. Even if it “appears obvious” to you, making it part of your introduction creates a safe, welcoming space, and serves as a reminder that individuals can choose their own identity. If you’re using name tags or place cards, add the pronouns there as well.
  • Welcome Everyone We often begin the seder with Ha Lachma Anya, which includes the line “kol dichfin yetei v’yechol,” or “everyone who is hungry is welcome to come and eat.” Ask the seder participants whom they’d like to ensure is included in the prayer – for example, people living with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ+ people, people who have been incarcerated, and others. You can also add blessings to welcome those who are not Jewish. WHC’s Passover page has links to some blessings you might like to use.
  • Use Inclusive Language Many haggadot use gendered language, such as references to our “forefathers” or to God as “He.” When you read these passages, use language that is inclusive of everyone being discussed. For example, use “ancestors” instead of “forefathers.” And when we talk about the Four Sons (the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who does not know how to ask) who ask four questions, use inclusive terms like “children” or “youth” instead of “sons” to make sure all genders and identities can ask the questions.
  • Connect the Passover Liberation Story to Other Freedom Stories Go around the table and ask people to share other stories of moving from adversity to freedom. Or discuss ten “plagues” that we face today. This discussion may engage your partner, children, and friends. These stories can be from the past or present, political and/or psychological (such as freedom from negative patterns).
  • Don’t Forget to Have Fun By ensuring all experiences are recognized, awkward or uncomfortable moments can be reduced, making your seder less stressful and fun for everyone! Some families add favorite songs that children learn in religious school, while others share memories of seders past or write new verses to Dayenu. Speaking of which …
  • Be Thankful Anyone who’s been to a seder loves the song Dayenu! It’s fun and upbeat and signals that it’s almost time to eat. It’s also a list of things we have to be thankful for. Ask your seder participants what modern freedoms they’re thankful for.

Additional Resources