Stimulating Conversation at the Seder

seder plate

Creating a memorable seder experience

Each year we relive the Exodus from Egypt to remember the misery of slavery and the lightness of freedom. Yet, this freedom is not open-ended. It is a way of life that reflects daily expressions of gratitude for our freedom and perseverance in freeing those still help captive. The sources of this captivity  and many, and include hunger, abuse, addiction, fear, poverty, mental illness trafficking, gun violence, and refugees.

Check out for a supplement on refugees.  American Jewish World Service (AJWS) also has a haggadah supplement,  “A Global Justice Haggadah ,” ajws-americanjewishwo.netdna

People: Memory Markers

Perhaps the most powerful memory marker comes from noting who is present in any given year and who is not. This bittersweet reminder pushes us to consider our responsibility to carry Seder and other Jewish traditions into the future. And we will do so in our own ways. It is not about everything always staying exactly the same. What matters is that it feels authentic to us.

Conversation prompts

Matzah: Symbol of Liberation or Affliction? 

During the Seder, we hold up the matzah and say, “This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the Land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need come and share our meal.”

How can the matzah be both the “bread of our affliction” as well as the  symbol of our journey to freedom?

How might encounter with our own afflictions and those of others                                 (however affliction is defined), lead to liberation?

Our narrow places

Consider two points: 1) Mitzrayim, the word for Egypt, is related to places of emotional, spiritual and physical constriction and 2) Passover is a time to be with family.

What do we do when being with family feels like a place of constriction.

Explore this experience of constriction. What is its source? How might you create liberating space for yourself and others?   How would the Seder experience change?

Seder for the 21st Century

How might you change the seder to make it accessible and inclusive of the many beliefs and points of view held by seder participants? What are the core components of the seder?  How might symbols be reinterpreted instead of discarded? What spiritual, cultural and communal values are embedded in the seder experience?


Haiku for Pass-over (Michael Levy), from A Poet’s Haggadah, Rick Lupert, ed., p. 54.

“Teaching at the Seder table

God’s loving-kindness

Killing first born”

Discuss the Haiku above. How does it fit into the seder story.

What makes a seder “successful”?

A successful seder raises awareness of the plight of the oppressed. Discuss the issue of oppression on a local, national and global level. Consider choosing one area in which to do some “freedom work.”

Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach!

Wishing you and those you love a sweet and engaging Seder and Passover holiday

Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi

22 Adar II 5776/ 1 April 5766


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s