Ideas to Make Your Passover Seder Great
By Johanna Potts
Reduce the Passover Seder stress with these ideas on how to make your Seder great. In fact the Seder within its own structure gives you some direction. For example, the point of reading about four children and their approaches to the Seder is to say to Seder leaders that all who are at the Seder are supposed to get the message of Passover in a way that is meaningful to him/her. For some it is the songs, for some it is the food, for some it telling and thinking about the story year after year. The challenge is to make it feel fresh and familiar at the same time.
Some ideas to make your Seder great will incorporate some unexpected activities (to everyone else).
1. After karpas (parsley or celery) serve a salad with carrots and lettuce – after all you have said the blessing for things that grow in the ground.
2. Incorporate some traditions not your own – if you are Sephardi, add something Yemeni; if you are Ashkenazi, try something Sephardi, etc. For example, participants at a Sephardic Persian (or Iranian) Passover Seder will simultaneously chant the Passover song "Dayenu" and hold bunches of either celery, chives, leeks or scallions in their hands and lightly beat each other on the back and shoulders to symbolize the sting generated by the whip of the Egyptian taskmasters. A variation of this custom with Sephardic Persian Jewish families will have participants at the Passover Seder table take turns being an Egyptian taskmaster, lightly beating another person with the celery, chives, scallions, or leeks.
3. Make puppets for all of the characters in Had Gadya and assign roles and sounds
4. Pick a theme and imagine a new symbol for it, let guests know the theme and send out discussion questions ahead of time. For example: Freedom from the Electronic/Information Age.
5. Use a popular TV show or movie as a framework for the Seder
6. Do part of your Seder sitting on cushions/pillows on the floor;
7. Assign different parts of the Seder to people ahead of time and ask them to find/write a reading and lead that part
8. Find time to include an important family story as part of the Seder
9. Write your own Haggadah. Some On-Line Resources are:
1. http://seder2015.org/ from University of Washington Communication and Leadership and an interactive firm Civilization
2. http://www.rac.org/pesach-themed-haggadot from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
3. http://ajws.org/what_we_do/education/resources/from_the_sources/fts_pesach_5771.pdf includes many readings and even a children’s book
4. http://www.haggadot.com/ open source haggadah sections and haggadot from diverse orientations.