Loading... Please wait...
  • 716.418.8211
  • My Account
  • Gift Certificates
  • Sign in or Create an account

You Are Invited to a Passover Seder

Posted by

If you have Jewish relatives or friends, there's a good chance you will be invited to join their celebration of Passover at a Seder. If so, it would be useful to know something about the historical background and unique practices of a rite that will be practiced in varying ways by Jews of all levels of observance on the first evening of Passover.

You may already know that the Seder is a commemoration of the Biblically narrated Exodus from Egypt. The Seder includes a retelling of that story, at least a sampling of the unleavened bread (matzoh) and bitter herbs featured in it, and lots of food and wine. Depending on the robustness of the family traditions, there can be lots of singing, too.

Passover Matzah Cover

Typically, the celebrants at the Seder, which means order, will follow a sequence in a book called a Haggadah, which means telling. Depending on their familiarity with, and commitment to, ancient tradition, they will say blessings over four cups of wine, eat matzoh and bitter herbs, dip vegetables in salt water, hear four programmed questions about the seder from youngsters present, answer the questions with the story of Passover, chant hymns, Psalms, and songs, and invariably eat a lavish meal. The music can range from serious liturgy to folk songs and children's ditties.

Hundreds of editions of the Haggadah have been published in the United States, most with English translations and commentaries, so hitherto uninitiated guests have ample opportunity to follow the sequence and read enlightening explanations. Some recent editions have analogized the Jewish festival of freedom from slavery to more contemporary struggles for religious, racial, ethnic and gender rights.

For Christians, the wine and unleavened bread have a powerful association with the Last Supper and the central sacrament of their faith. All of the Gospels except John seem to place that meal on the first night of Passover, making it a Seder for the Master and his Jewish apostles. Whatever one's view of the body and blood concept, it had its antecedents in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.

Seder Ser

Ironically, that sacrifice is the one major element of the historical Passover not reenacted at contemporary Seders. On the eve of the departure from Egyptian bondage, the Israelites were ordered to sacrifice a lamb, place some of its blood on their doorposts, and ride out the night as a deadly plague struck the homes of their Egyptian neighbors. The miraculous events of that night are discussed in detail at the Seder but, since Jewish sacrificial rites can only be performed at the long-destroyed Temple in Jerusalem, the lamb is merely symbolized on the Seder table and in one of the unleavened wafers consumed at the end of the meal.

If you attend a Seder and like it, you'll be interested to know that many traditional Jews have a second one the next night. There's never too much of a good thing, some say.

View Comments

A Brief History Of Jewish Names

In the beginning Jewish people did not have surnames. Surnames for Sephardic Jewish people were introduced around the time of the 10 th century in Italy, Spain and Portugal. The popularity of this in Eastern Europe and Germany did not come till much later with the Ashkenazi Jewish people. When delving into the Avotaynu site of Jewish genealogy, a person of Jewish origin [...]

Read More »

Important Dates In Judaism

Historically the most important dates in Judaism began around 5772 years ago, although these dates are not always agreed to by all. Around 4115 years ago, the creation occurred. Then the Flood came around 3824 years ago. Abraham was born 3324 years ago. God created the Torah and gave it to Abraham as His law for the people of Israel around 2843 [...]

Read More »

A Brief History Of Early Jewish Art

A Brief History Of Early Jewish Art Up until the 18 th century, Rabbinical authorities believed that visual Jewish art was prohibited by the Second Commandment. Around this time visual Jewish art qualified as “graven images” and Jewish artists were rare until they were found living within assimilated European communities. Despite early religious community fears that the art could be used for [...]

Read More »

The Meaning of Chai

Chai (pronounced [xai], occasionally [ħai]) is a symbol and word that figures prominently in Jewish culture and consists of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet Het (ח) and Yod (י). In the Hebrew language, the word chai (חַי) spelled by these two letters means "living," is related to the term for "life," chaim, and also [...]

Read More »

Celebrating Chanukah

Centuries ago, following the defeat of Greek ruler, King Antiochius, a Jewish priest named Judas Maccabbee reclaimed and rededicated the Second Temple of the Jewish people. Putting an end to the tyranny of the King was a grand feat. To purify the Temple during rededication, a single lamp was lit in the Temple, although there [...]

Read More »

An Introduction to the Jewish Prayer Shawl

Tallit or the Jewish prayer shawl is one of the many important religious items used by the Jews. The Jews wear it over their outer clothes to cover heads during morning prayers, Shacharit, as well through the other prayers too. The textual reference of the shawl however suggests that the Tallit must be worn only [...]

Read More »

About Jewish Holidays

The many holidays that the Jewish community celebrates year round are very much the part of Jewish religion.  The holidays have both religious and cultural significance. Jewish holidays are full of rituals and Jews, as they stay very rooted to their culture, observe the holidays very solemnly.Jewish holidays can be categorized as major, minor and [...]

Read More »

Shema Yisrael: What is the Meaning Behind the Famous Jewish Prayer?

In the year 1945 a rabbi named Eliezer Silver was sent to Europe. His purpose was to help gather and collect any Jewish children that were hidden during the Holocaust. Typically, most of these children were hidden by being placed with non-Jewish families. Naturally, the biggest question that people ask when they hear this story [...]

Read More »