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How to Host a Seder

Return to the Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families

Hosting can be stressful—but it doesn’t have to be! With enough preparation and communication between potential guests, you can manage to create a gorgeous seder (all without psyching yourself out).

Since seders can be a pretty big undertaking between the meal preparation, the ritual foods and leading the seder itself, it’s OK if you’re not up for going through every single aspect of the traditional order of events.

And if you’re completely new to Passover as a holiday, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed! Passover is a holiday with many parts, making it that much more complicated. You can decide you’ll do some of the seder this year and add to it in the coming years. You can pick and choose different aspects that feel manageable and also turn to 18Doors for help (check out our how to host webinar).

What’s important to keep in mind through all of this, is that this is a holiday about freedom—and welcoming others. One of the first things we say in the seder is, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” And it’s a well-loved tradition to open your home to guests for the seder. People often invite family, of course, but also friends and neighbors, people who are used to celebrating Passover and people for whom it may be their first time.

Be realistic with yourself and your family/friends about what you can take on and when you need help.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while considering hosting:

  • Do you want to cook, and put someone else in charge of leading the rituals?
  • Do you want to delegate different parts of the service or meal to various family members and guests?
  • Do you want to focus on the storytelling and have the food come from a caterer?
  • Can you take off of work a day or two before the seder to have time to organize?
  • When you invite your guests, consider how much information you can give them in advance.
  • What time will you start? How long do you expect your seder to last?
  • Will you have activities geared toward children, a plan to help make the night enjoyable for people of all ages or maybe even a place for children to fall asleep if the night goes late?
  • How can you describe your level of “keeping Passover,” that is, will the food be strictly kosher for Passover, not at all following the Passover dietary laws or somewhere in between?

In the hours and days leading up to the seder, you’ll need to get your home ready—whether that’s  cleaning the whole house or cooking up a feast. Don’t be afraid to get festive when decorating your table! Add a tablecloth, some flowers and place cards for all the guests.

You’ll also want to consider getting:

  • A seder plate with the ritual items described above
  • A place setting for each person that includes an extra plate for the ritual foods in the first part of the seder
  • A kiddush cup or wine glass and a Haggadah for each person

Other items on the table can include the following:

  • A plate with three matzot (plural of matzah) and a decorative matzah cover
  • A cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah
  • A modern addition is a cup of water for the Prophetess Miriam, who is said to have had a well of water follow her around the desert, which allowed the Israelites access to water during their journey to freedom
  • Bowls of salt water for dipping
  • Bottles of wine and grape juice (Depending on your guest list, having a mix of kosher and non-kosher beverages will ensure options that are suitable for everyone)
  • Pillows for reclining, which is one seder symbol of freedom and also has connections back to the Greek symposium

18Doors

18Doors is here to support interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish life. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship provides offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have questions, please contact info@18doors.org.

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Author: 18Doors