Passover begins at sundown on Saturday, March 27.

This page contains a variety of resources from Rabbi Ruhi Sophia and others to assist you in creating your own seder experience.

The Passover Seder is one of the most important home rituals in the Jewish tradition. Two people together are enough to make a seder! For those of who are on your own or unable to do the seder yourselves, Rabbi Ruhi Sophia is leading a virtual Community Seder the second evening of Passover. Enjoy a short seder with the community, then have dinner on your own.

The TBI Virtual Community Seder will be using the Saratoga Haggadah, compiled years ago by Rabbi Ruhi Sophia’s parents! It takes more than 30 minutes, but not more than an hour to get to the meal.

Even though this is a Second Night Seder, please see “Saturday, March 27th” section in the step-by-step list below so that you’re ready to go at 5:30pm on the 28th.

Attend the TBI Virtual Community Seder led by Rabbi Ruhi Sophia
Sunday, March 28th, 5:30pm

Signup has closed. You may be able to find a virtual seder to attend here.

Getting Ready for Pesach, Step by Step

Here is Rabbi Ruhi Sophia’s guide for those who are managing their own seder for the first time. Download guide here.

ASAP:  

  • Decide what Haggadah you will use and acquire it (see some suggestions farther down on this page)
  • Have a household conversation about goals for the seder, which could include: 
    • Traditional Passover liturgy 
    • Singing Passover songs together 
    • Being silly together 
    • Having an interesting conversation about how we do liberation today 
    • Any other you come up with (My family’s seder goals are usually all of the above, and our Seders are very long! You decide what your goals are, and how much of the liturgy to focus on, how much open conversation time, etc.) 

In the next two weeks: 

  • Clean your house as best you can, getting rid of food containing the five forbidden grains: wheat, spelt, barley, rye and oats, or gathering all of them to one definable location in your house and… 
  • Sell your chametz (either entrusting me or Chabad to do so on your behalf). You can authorize me to sell it here by March 25th.
  • Plan a menu for seder night. I grew up having vegetarian seders (some of my favorite recipes are Spinach Cheese Squares and Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms). You can also google lots of other Pesach recipes online. Or you can keep it minimalist: eat the traditional seder plate foods plus just some soup and salad. 
  • Acquire non-perishable seder foods: matzah, maror, and wine/grape juice  

In the final days leading up to Pesach: 

  • Finish cleaning your house 
  • Clean out your oven (self-clean cycle, if it has one) 
  • Kasher any dishes that you can, (and you decide how far to go with this) and/or pull out Pesach dishes  
  • Acquire or plan to acquire perishable seder foods: parsley, shank bone (or beet for veg version), eggs (if not vegan), charoset ingredients (see below for recipes) 

Because Passover begins on a Saturday night, after Shabbat, this year, the prep involves a classic “Hurry up and wait” situation, in order to be ready to go before Shabbat, but then still celebrate Shabbat before moving into Passover.  

Thursday and/or Friday, March 25 and 26:  

  • Advance prep cooking and shopping 
  • Make charoset (It likes a day or two to sit and absorb flavors. There are many recipes, from many Jewish traditions. Ashkenazi recipes like this one usually have fewer ingredients, whereas Sephardi recipes like these feature more dried fruit and spices.)  
  • Boil eggs (if not vegan) 
  • Finish cooking Shabbat food and Seder food before Shabbat starts.
  • (Here’s the weird part): set aside exactly as much Challah as you will eat on Friday night and Shabbat morning, and make sure that you have gotten rid of the rest of your chametz (except for what you’ll use for bedikaht chametz, below)

Thursday eve after dark, March 25: Bedikat Chametz: (here’s the liturgy and here’s a demonstration). The ritual for the morning will be different this year, because of the Shabbat/Erev Pesach situation (see below) but the evening ritual will be the same.

Friday, March 26: 

  • Burn your chametz (but don’t yet recite the statement of nullification – wait until tomorrow!)

Friday eve, March 26:

  • Celebrate Shabbat – Enjoy a normal Shabbat dinner and services!

Saturday, March 27:

  • Enjoy the last of your Shabbat challah (and any other chametz) by 11:10 am – eat it all up or (cringe) flush it.
  • Nullify your chametz with the following declaration by 12:10 pm.
    • “All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.”
  • Set table, make sure you have: 
    • Wine/juice in glasses plus more for future glasses and Elijah’s cup
    • Salt water for dipping parsley and eggs
    • Napkins for people to wipe fingers after dripping wine for the 10 plagues
    • 3 Matzah in a covered stack
    • Special napkin or other cloth to be afikomen cover
    • Seder plate with parsley, maror, charoset, egg (or vegan substitute), shankbone (or veg substitute)
    • Some people put an orange on the seder plate, or other additions (see the supplemental materials)

Haggadot, Guides, and Music for your Seder

The most important thing about a seder is that it is an opportunity to internalize the Exodus story, make it come alive for today. There is a wide variety of Haggadah options and, depending on your household, different options will be right for you.   

IF YOU HAVE TIME AND CREATIVITY TO DO IT YOURSELF:  

  • Haggadah Coloring Book: Adults and kids will enjoy coloring the illustrations and creating your own drawings. My Illuminated Haggadah is free to download.
  • Make your own Haggadah: Free site to compile your own Haggadah, based on traditional, liberal, or secular templates from haggadot.com. 
  • Sefaria: Here’s the full text of the Haggadah (most is translated; nothing is transliterated) 

IF YOU NEED TO DOWNLOAD A SHORT, KID-FRIENDLY SEDER: 

  • Saratoga Haggadah compiled years ago by Rabbi Ruhi Sophia’s parents! It takes more than 30 minutes, but not more than an hour to get to the meal. 
  • 30-minute Seder An abbreviated Seder, with the ritual completed before the meal; hard copies can be purchased, or you can purchase a pdf to download and make copies. 
  • An even-shorter Haggadah from PJ Library 
  • “A Guide to the Seder” by Jewish Federations of North America 

IF YOU WANT TO BUY A PHYSICAL HAGGADAH BOOK: Come to the TBI Gift Shop Sunday, March 21, 10:00am to Noon, and Wednesday, March 24, 4:00-5:30pm.

  • A Night to Rememberthis is Rabbi Ruhi Sophia top pick recommendation! 
  • A Night of Questions – this is the Reconstructionist Haggadah that we’ve used each year at TBI’s community seder. 

Supplemental Seder Materials: 

Videos and sourcesheets by Rabbi Ruhi Sophia (geared towards Talmud Torah students, informative for adults as well!): 

Haggadah supplements from various Jewish non-profits  

  • Hadar’s Pesach Reader: A collection of essays and resources to prompt discussions at your seder and beyond
  • HIAS: Haggadah with an eye toward immigration and refugee issues
  • Social Justice: Several Haggadot included at The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism 
  • J-Street Haggadah:   You can download here for free. 
  • Truah: Has a number of Passover resources for download. 
  • Mazon: Has a hunger seder Haggadah for download.
  • Hebrew College Passover Companion: Click here to get this collection of essays, poems, and midrashim dedicated to longtime esteemed faculty member Judith Kates.

Music: Find traditional and contemporary versions of Passover songs here. 

General Passover info from a Reform Jewish perspective: go here. It features many links, including history, customs and rituals, Passover family activities, food and recipes. 

The Ten Plagues: This one-page document has ideas for discussing the Ten Plagues with children. 

18 Doors: Lots of good material here, particularly for interfaith families. 

The Seder Plate

The big mitzvot of Pesach are to eat matzah during Pesach, and to get rid of chametz (leavened foods) in advance of Pesach. But there are other traditional foods featured during the seder. You can find out the symbolism of each in detail here; for your shopping purposes, they’re listed below:  

  • Kosher for Passover Matzah 
  • Maror (horseradish raw root or in jars) 
  • A shank bone (some vegetarian families use a beet, the only vegetable that bleeds, to remind of the Passover sacrifice) 
  • Parsley (a symbol of spring, used early in the Seder) 
  • Charoset (a sweet mixture recalling the mortar that our ancestors used in their labors. Recipe samples in timeline below)  
  • Hardboiled eggs, also symbolizing springtime, and traditionally the first food eaten as part of the festive meal (and dipped in salt water, like the parsley). 
  • Wine or grape juice 

Books (including some Haggadot) that we recommend

The Open Door: A Passover Haggadah, by Sue Levi Elwell and Ruth Weisberg

A Family Haggadah, Shoshana Silberman

A Different Night: The Family Participation Haggadah, Noam Zinn and David Dishon

The Jewish Journey Haggadah, Adena Berkowitz

The Art of Jewish Living: The Passover Seder, Dr. Ron Wolfson

Keeping Passover: Everything You need to Know to Bring the Ancient Tradition to Life and to Create Your Own Passover Celebration, Ira Steingroot

Creating Lively Passover Seders: A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts & Activities, David Arnow

Make Your Own Passover Seder: A New Approach to Creating a Personal Family Celebration, Alan Abraham Kay and Jo Kay