What to Know About Attending a Passover Seder

Attending Your First Passover Seder

So the Passover seder isn’t at your house, and you’re going somewhere else. What do you need to know? You probably want the same information about attending a Passover seder that you would provide if you were going to be the one hosting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you feel prepared and comfortable, and also to be on the same page with the host about expectations. For instance, if you know you’ll have to leave the seder around 9pm to be able to put kids to bed or get up for work the next day, make sure the seder starts on the early side. Otherwise, it probably isn’t a good fit for your schedule.

It’s always a good idea to show up with a gift for the host, and to be aware of the dietary restrictions that are such a big part of this holiday. If you bring a bottle of wine, you might want to make sure it’s kosher. If you bring food, it’ll be helpful to first get the “clear” from the host. Consider purchasing an item you know is certified kosher for Passover. Flowers or a plant may also be safe to you avoid any complications around food restrictions.

Community Seders

Not all seders are in people’s own homes. Some synagogues, Hillels or other Jewish organizations host community seders for people who may not have another place to go or for those who are newer to celebrating Passover. Community seders are also great for people who have recently moved to a new city or who don’t have the capacity to host one themselves. These larger celebrations also provide an opportunity to see how other people celebrate and to gain insights and ideas for your own future seders.

If you like the sound if this, start by calling the local Jewish Federation, Jewish community center or a nearby university Hillel. Even if they are not hosting a community seder in their organization, they may be able to point you in the right direction. 18doors can also connect you with local resources. Community seders typically aren’t free, but there are usually also options for people who cannot afford to pay.

“All who are hungry, let them come and eat,” is really such an important part of the Passover tradition, so if you have any questions or concerns about cost, accessibility or anything else, please reach out to the hosting organization. Someone there will likely be more than happy to discuss options with you and help you prepare for the event.

Themed Seders

A Harry Potter-themed Passover seder? What about one that focuses on women’s rights? Just as people have adapted the items on the seder plate, innovative Jewish communities have also created and adjusted the seder ritual to appeal to anyone and everyone.

  • Women’s seders emphasize the role of women in Jewish history and on women’s leadership in Jewish communities.
  • Freedom seders focus on relationships between Black and Jewish communities and parallels between the experiences of enslaved peoples throughout history.
  • Labor seders highlight workers’ rights and the connection between forced labor and the modern experiences of working people.
  • Some people also have “model seders” leading up to Passover as a way to practice the rituals or teach people who may not be planning to attend a seder during the holiday itself.
  • And on a more lighthearted note, chocolate seders feature four cups of chocolate milk instead of wine and offer a fun and sometimes silly take on the seder ritual and are a popular Hebrew school activity.
  • You can also always create the seder-theme of your dreams on your own!

Planning to host? Read this first.

Return to the Guide to Passover


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