*Adapted from Temple Emanu-El’s Jewish at Home Series and Shabbat Hagadol Sermon
The soup is on the stove, the brisket is in the oven, the matzah balls are made, the table is set, and now you have a chance to think about the Seder ritual. We focus so much on the preparations that sometimes we don’t have time to focus on how to change up Seder or make it a more meaningful experience for all your guests. So here are a few ways to “spice” up your Seder this year without putting an extra kick in your maror.
You have worked hard preparing for this day; it is only fair for your guests to put in a little work too. Ask each of your guests to come up with a question that they have been thinking about this Passover and be ready to share it with everyone at the table. Or you can send out a question or two that your Seder guests have to think about before and that you will discuss at the table. Here are some possibilities.
- If the Haggadah tells us that we are still slaves and not free, what is our definition of freedom? What puts us into bondage today and how can we seek freedom from this?
- Do you think God performs miracles today; like God did in our Passover Story?
- Are there people in our society today that need redeeming?
Make your Own Charoset Bar
Rabbi Melinda Panken at her Seder has a “Make Your Own Charoset Bar.” When guests arrive, they are given a bowl and then they fill it with all the fixings for charoset. They choose from different chopped choices including dates, figs, apples, coconut, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cherries, chocolate chips, smushed banana, craisins, raisins, mango, orange, strawberries, pomegranate, honey, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, (spices of all sorts) wine, grape juice and anything else you could think of. Rabbi Melinda Panken sometimes then asks her guests to drash (give a little sermon) on why they chose the ingredients and what their choices teach us about slavery and freedom.
Assign Pouring Buddies
We celebrate our freedom on Passover and we are like royalty on Seder night that is why we lean on this night. And since royalty does not pour wine for themselves, everyone should get a “pouring buddy” who fills up their glass with wine or grape juice (or a combo) at the appropriate time.
Telling More Stories!
Part of Passover is telling our story from slavery to liberation. We will read from the haggadah, sing songs, and answer the questions. I believe it is okay to stray away from the haggadah text and tell other stories as well. As you sit down at the Passover Seder, perhaps begin by sharing with your guests a family heirloom at your table. Tell the story of the candlesticks, or a Kiddush cup, or tablecloth, or special plate that you are using that night. By doing this you are passing stories down to new generations that you think may know the family history but actually do not.
Beyond Finger Puppet Plagues
Finger puppets plagues have been a hit in the past and the plague bags are missing a plague or two… what can I do this year? Perhaps you can throw out Ping-Pong balls when we say hail, or stick red circular Avery labels when you say boils. Or you can recite the 10 plagues and then ask every guest to share 10 things that plague us today.
Please let us know if you “spice” up your Seder in other ways. We would love to hear from our Temple Community!
I hope that your Seder night is filled with delicious food, wonderful company, and some deep and meaningful conversation.
Wishing you and your family a chag pesach sameach.
Rabbi Ethan Prosnit