Top tips for Seder Night

Happy Pesach to all those who are celebrating this Jewish festival, which starts tonight (Wednesday 8 April).

sedar night

Tips for a fun Seder Night

The cleaning is done, the house sparkles but why is this year is different from all other years? Because this year there is no going to mum’s, going away for Pesach or attending a community seder. Instead, lockdown is forcing us to stay at home and make our own seders.

There’s no need to panic.  It’s not as daunting as it might feel.  Shopping’s been done or ordered online and the fridge and cupboards are full.  There’s even  time for last minute panic buying.

Essential purchases for the seder plate are lots of eggs (for baking and hard boiled for everyone to eat with salt water just before the meal), horseradish (Barkingside Tesco had plenty today), parsley, lettuce, matzahs, ground almonds, cinnamon, apples, grape juice and/or kiddush wine/ordinary wine as plenty will be drunk during the evening.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a seder plate.  Any large plate will do and you can use paper muffin or fairy cake cases on the plate.

This is what is needed when the table is laid:

  • The Seder plate, which contains, in clockwise order:
    Shank bone – zeroa – lamb or roasted chicken wing bone (a roasted beet is a vegetarian alternative). This needs to be slightly charred.
    Charoset – a mixture of nuts, fruit, wine, and spices  (recipe at the end)
    Bitter herbs – maror – typically red or white horseradish (some people prefer raw horseradish) Vegetable – karpas – parsley or any other vegetable, such as potatoes
    Egg – beitzah – a roasted hard-boiled egg .  This also needs to be charred with a flame but care needs to be taken as the egg could explode.
  • A covered plate that holds three pieces of matzah.
  • A bowl of salt water.
  • Hard boiled eggs for each person
  • A wine glass for each person. Each participant will drink four cups of kosher wine or grape juice during the Seder.
  • An extra wine glass for Elijah the Prophet.

If you don’t have a Haggadah, download one at Chabad.org

The Order of the Seder

(with youtube links to help if no one remembers the tunes or words to the songs)

In our house, we read most of it in English, taking it in turns to read.

  1. Kadesh – Kiddush
    Blessing the wine at the start of the meal. On Friday, the biblical section specific to the Sabbath is added. On Saturday evening, add the Havdalah section separating sanctity of Sabbath from the sanctity of holy day.
    Listen to Kadesh Urhatz on youtube
  1. Urhatz – Wash
    Washing preparation for eating vegetable entree (Karpas). Since the need for such washing was questioned, no blessing is required. It is good to go around to each of the participants, pouring water over the hands from a pitcher into a bowl.
  2. Karpas – Spring vegetable
    Any vegetable that is not bitter may be eaten. Common vegetables used are celery, parsley, onion, or potato. Dipped in salt water for purification and seasoning they remind us of the vegetation of spring, or the baby boys cast in the Nile, or the tears shed by the slaves. The blessing said is the usual benediction of thanks before eating any vegetable.
  3. Yahatz – Divide
    Break the middle matzah into two parts. Take larger part, wrap it in napkin and save for the conclusion of the meal. Try – but not too hard – to keep it from being stolen by the children because it must be available for the end of the meal.
  4. Magid – Narrate
  • Lift up the plate with the symbols of affliction. The traditional invitation to the stranger to join the seder is offered.
  • The wine cups are refilled.
  • The youngest person at the seder asks the Ma Nishtana (the four Questions)
    Listen to Ma Nishtana on youtube
  • The Response to the Questions. Read portions in unison. Have other portions recited by different individuals at the table.
  • The Four Sons – Listen on youtube
  • The Ten Plagues. Since our “cup of salvation” cannot be regarded as full when we recall the suffering of the Egyptians, a drop of wine is removed from the cup with the mention of each plague.
    Watch on youtube
  • Dayenu (It Would Have Been Enough). Let all present join in the refrain thanking God for all the miracles he bestowed upon the Israelites.
    Listen to Dayenu on youtube
  • The cup is again lifted in joy, thankful for God’s deliverance, ready to praise Him with the first word of the Psalm of praise (Hallel).
  • Two Psalms of the Hallel.
  • Drink the wine, with the blessing of salvation.

Avadim Hayinu – Listen on youtube

Vehi Sheamda – Listen on youtube

  1. Rohtza – Wash
    Ready to eat, the hands are washed before the meal, as is required at any meal. It is  similar to the previous hand-washing, but now all wash with the usual benediction as the hands are dried.
  2. Motzi Matzah – Eating Matzah
    The first food at the meal is the matzah, the unleavened bread. The usual blessing over bread, Hamotzi, is recited. However, before eating the matzah, a second blessing thanking God for the requirement to eat matzah is recited.
  3. Maror – Bitter Herbs
    Small pieces of horseradish are dipped into haroset(a sweet paste symbolic of mortar) to indicate that overemphasis on material things results in bitterness. Before eating it, a blessing thanking God for this requirement is recited. Some people mix ground horseradish with charoset.
  4. Korekh – Hillel Sandwich
    In ancient times, the Talmudic scholar Hillel ate the three symbolic foods (lamb, matzah, and bitter herbs) together so that each mouthful contained all three. Thus the symbols of slavery and liberation were intermingled. Now that we do not have the Paschal lamb, we eat just the matzah and horseradish in a “Hillel sandwich.” No special blessing is said, but we do read the words recalling Hillel’s practice.
  5. Shulhan Orekh – Meal
    The joyous feasting gives us the feeling of human fellowship in harmony with God.
  6. Tzafun – Dessert
    Now the afikomen. The seder service can’t continue without it. Unfortunately  someone has “stolen” it.  In our house parents hide the afikoman when it is first put aside (Step 4) and the children have to find it after the meal.  The one who does, wins a prize.  Sometimes, it is the other way round and the children hide the afikomen for adults to find.
  7. Barekh – Grace After Meals (Birkat Hamazon)
    This is the usual “bentschen,” grace after meals, including, of course, thankfulness for the Passover holiday. Fill the cup before this grace and drink the third cup at its conclusion, with the usual “bore p’ri hagafen” blessing.
    Listen to after meal blessing on youtube

At this point in the seder, we open the door For Elijah, who by tradition is the forerunner of the Messiah, the harbinger of hope. Sing “Eliyahu Ha-navi.”

  1. Hallel – Psalms of Praise
    The rest of the evening is given over to hymns and songs. The Hallel is completed, and all join in singing songs: Adir Hu, Had Gadya, etc.

Chad Gadya Listen on youtube

Echad Mi Yodea Listen on youtube

Adir Hu Listen on youtube

  1. Nirtzah – Conclusion
    With the traditional formula, the seder is concluded, and the we sing L’Shana HaBa’ah B’Y’rushalayim [Next Year in Jerusalem]. Listen on youtube

For more information visit the My Jewish Learning website

Recipes

Charoseth
250 g apples
50g sultanas
50g ground almonds
Cinammon
Grape juice or sweet wine

  • Peel and core the apples and grate.
  • Mix with the almonds, sultanas and cinnamon to taste.
  • Add the liquid to taste so it isn’t too dry

Mum’s Chocolate Cake
8oz (225g) sugar
8oz (225g) ground almonds
8oz (225g) chocolate (ground)
5 eggs

  • Mix eggs with sugar till white and creamy
  • Fold in almonds and chocolate
  • Bake in oven gas mark 4 (180 degrees) 45 mins

Mum’s Cinammon Balls
500g Sugar
500g Ground almonds
25g cinnamon
2-3 egg whites
1 tablespoon of kirsch or lemon juice

  • Mix sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and kirsch
  • Whisk the egg whites till they form peaks
  • Fold the egg whites into the dry mixture
  • Shape into balls on a baking tray.
  • Leave to dry overnight
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven (gas 4, 180 degrees) for 10 minutes.

Deliah Smith’s Baked Apple and Almond Pudding
Visit Delia online for the recipe

Activities for Children

Kids Passover Colouring SheetsVisit Chabad.org for more information

Passover Crafts
Visit Chabad.org for craft activities

Visit Care.com for craft activities

Post Author: Nina Simon

Looking for activities to keep you busy at home? Visit our Do More at Home page on our website.

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