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The 15 Steps of the Seder (with videos!)

Return to the Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families

The fifteen steps of the Passover seder are listed below. And for fun, for each step of the seder, there’s a short video with someone from our 18Doors staff (sometimes with their partners and/or kids) teaching you a little bit about that step. We know that for many of you, due to the Coronavirus, this is the first year that you’ll be making your own seder, since social distancing will be keeping you apart from family and friends with whom you might otherwise join. We hope that you will find these videos helpful as you prepare. And at the very end of the seder, in the final section of “Nirtzah,” instead of or in addition to concluding with the traditional phrase “Next year in Jerusalem!” you may want to say “Next year together!” We at 18Doors wish you a meaningful holiday.

To view a how-to video, click below. (And don’t forget to check out the blooper reel!)

1. Kadesh – a blessing over wine

2. Ur-chatz – ritual washing of hands without the usual blessing

3. Karpas – eating some leafy greens or green vegetables

4. Yachatz – raising up and breaking the middle Matzah (more on this later)

5. Maggid – the telling of the Exodus story (the longest section of the Seder)

6. Rach-tzah – ritual washing of hands before the meal, with the blessing

7. Motzi – the blessing over the Matzah and the meal

8. Matzah – another blessing over the Matzah, this time emphasizing the special nature of eating Matzah as a Passover ritual act

9. Maror – eating bitter herbs

10. Korech – eating a sandwich of Matzah and bitter herbs (and then adding a sweet, chutney-like Jewish dish called charoset)

11. Shulchan Orech – the festive meal

12. Tzafun – eating the Afikomen (more on that later)

13. Barech – grace after meals

14. Hallel – singing psalms of praise

15. Nirtzah – conclusion

And one of the traditional Passover Songs – Echad Mi Yodea – Who Knows One

For a very accessible overview of each of these steps of the seder, including a description of what happens and the symbolic meaning of each element, click here.

Some of the most well-loved ritual elements of the seder take place within some of the 15 steps listed above. These include:
  • Drinking four cups of wine (or grape juice) throughout the evening
  • During the Yachatz section, the leader takes a ceremonial plate that has 3 pieces of matzah stacked on it, and lifts it up. Then, s/he takes the middle matzah, breaks it in half, and then has someone hide one half somewhere in the house. At the end of the meal, kids are invited to search for the hidden matzah, which is known as the afikomen. In some families, the child who finds it gets a gift, though often every child gets a gift when the afikomen has been found.
  • During the Maggid section, in which we retell the Exodus story, there are several well-loved parts, such as:

o   The “Four Questions,” often sung by young children who have learned the traditional melody for singing these questions in Hebrew. (Video of this here.)

o   The chanting of the 10 plagues that struck ancient Egypt before Pharaoh finally let the Hebrew slaves go. In sorrow that so many Egyptians suffered as part of our liberation, we remove one drop of wine for each plague, symbolizing a diminishment of our joy.

o   Singing a song called “Dayenu.” It repeatedly proclaims that if God had only provided a fraction of the goodness that God showed to our ancestors, “it would have been enough” (that phrase is the meaning of the Hebrew word,  Dayenu. Want to practice the song? Click here.

  • Tasting different varieties of charoset (more on this food below)
  • Eating the bitter herb – maror – and seeing just how hot it is. If peoples’ faces turn red, it’s especially memorable.
  • Setting a place at the table, including a cup of wine, for the spirit of the Hebrew biblical prophet, Elijah, and later during the seder, opening the door so that his presence (or, metaphorical presence if you prefer) can come in.
  • Singing fun folk songs near the end of the seder – you can see YouTube videos of many of them here.
  • Concluding the Seder with the words, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

The Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families is also available in a beautiful PDF


Passover Video Outtakes

18Doors

Author: 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.


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.