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Traditional Passover Dinner

Passover is a springtime holiday marking the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt and celebrating their freedom from slavery. This 8-day festival is a joyous occasion observed with many special foods and customs, beginning with a ceremonial dinner called the Seder. Keep the Seder table settings and décor simple to keep the focus on the symbolic elements of the meal. A pair of topiaries or green plants on either side of the Seder plate will add a fresh touch of spring without taking attention from the Passover narrative.


The Seder

Celebrated for the first two nights of Passover, the Seder is a special dinner and ritual retelling of the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt based on a sacred text called the Haggadah. It follows a careful order of foods (the word "seder" means order in Hebrew).

The Seder meal is dividing into 15 parts, beginning with a blessing. The Seder isn't so much a meal as a narrative; only small amounts of ritual foods are consumed. Some of the foods eaten during the Seder include wine, parsley or celery, breads, matzoh and bitter herbs. During the Seder, friends and family gather around the dinner table and read from the Haggadah (the book used to guide the Seder).

The service is traditionally led by the head of the household, and that person will often ask family and friends to participate by reading passages or engaging in a discussion of the story as it is unfolding. The storytelling can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on how much time is spent discussing details of the story. During the service, there is very little food eaten—symbolic foods and wine—so by the time the service comes to a close, everyone is ready for the celebratory meal. The first two nights of Passover are celebrated with the Seder meal. It is a feast of celebration, togetherness and remembrance.

The Seder plate tells a story of the Jews exodus from slavery. The story and the ritual eating of the foods helps to guide children. Main focus at Passover is family, fun, and history.

Share your celebration
Share your celebration. Inviting non-Jews to your Seder meal is a great way to share your traditions. Give each guest a print-out of a simple explanation of the foods served and their symbolic meaning so they can follow along. Make your own or download the information from the internet.

Making Passover fun for kids
Kids love to be included in holiday planning, and this is a perfect opportunity to make Passover more meaningful through games and crafts that teach as they entertain. Learning games Kids will enjoy "20 questions" or trivia-style games featuring historical figures such as Elijah, Moses and Pharaoh. Tailor questions to the appropriate age level; older children will enjoy making up questions for younger kids and helping to explain the answers.

Holiday crafts
Many craft ideas can be found on the internet using simple household materials. Type "passover crafts" or "passover activities" into the search box on Google for a wealth of ideas. Kids will enjoy making Seder placemats and matzoh covers or decorating inexpensive goblets for the table. If you’re entertaining several children, have them make Pharaoh masks or enact stories such as Moses parting the Red Sea.

The book of Exodus relates the story of the 10 plagues that God decreed upon the Egyptians, the 10th being the killing of all firstborn sons. To exempt them from the plague, God told the Hebrews to mark their doorways with the blood of a lamb, and the spirit of the Lord would "pass over" their homes, sparing the firstborn. When Pharaoh subsequently freed the Hebrews, they left so quickly that there wasn't time even for the bread to rise. This is why no unleavened bread is eaten during Passover.


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