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Did You Know?

 The word “seder” means “order” and refers to the arranged

sequence of customs and rituals at the Passover feast.

 Seders are actually modeled after Greco-Roman symposiums

(sym- together, posium- drinking wine). Symposiums were
venues for aristocratic men to gather and philosophize as they
ate lavish meals served by slaves. The rabbis adapted the
symposium into seders where all are invited to join in the
abundant food and lively discussion, and no one is to be
excluded or exploited.

 It is a medieval custom to spill wine at the seder,

symbolizing the suffering of the Egyptians during the Exodus.
As we celebrate our freedom, we still remember the pain felt
by others, even those who oppressed us.

 There is an ancient tradition to prominently place a cup of

wine for Elijah the prophet on the seder table, representing the
future redemption. A recent feminist tradition is to also place
a cup of water for Miriam the prophetess on the table,
representing the healing and hope needed in the present.

To symbolize balance of present and future, place both cups on your table. Have
everyone pour a small amount of water into Miriam’s Cup, while sharing something
they are grateful for in the present moment. Next, everyone may add a few drops of
wine to Elijah’s Cup while expressing a wish for the future, silently or aloud, one by
one collectively filling the cup.
FREEDOM is a well-known theme of Passover, but when
thinking about freedom we rarely consider our freedom to
challenge and to question. The entire seder is designed as a
forum for open questioning and dialogue about ideas large
and small.

We are invited to question assumptions, to seek deeper

meaning, and to insist on imagining a world beyond what
we see before us. It is also a time to question our inner world.

After asking “How is this night different from all other
nights?” ask “How am I different tonight?”
What is different in your life tonight from this time
last year? What are the differences you want to see
in you and your world by this time next year?

COVER IMAGE: Before pastrami on rye or lox on bagels,

there was another Jewish sandwich: lamb and bitter
herbs in matzah (Today we use charoset in place of
lamb). Hillel, the first-century sage, created the
world’s first sandwich, which is aptly named the
“Hillel sandwich.”
“In every generation one is obligated
to see oneself as one who personally
went out of Egypt.”

From this line in the Haggadah we

learn of our obligation to identify with
those who are oppressed, and to act on
their behalf, recognizing that until all
are free, none are free.

Like those in the world today who live

in suffering, we have suffered while
others stood silently. On Passover we
reflect on our own Jewish history and
reach out to those who are oppressed.

For more information about Passover,

go to

Become a change-agent! Passover can be an opportunity to make a personal


commitment to heal the world. Whether through political advocacy, community

service, fundraising, grassroots organizing, or another approach, find a path which
allows you to advance the lives of people who suffer. Go online, read books, and
hear speakers on an issue you want to explore, and then learn how you can take
steps to help.
 Some Persian and Afghani
Jews have the custom at the
 Charoset is a mixture of
seder of lightly whipping each
chopped nuts and fruit, wine,
other with leeks and green
and spices eaten at the seder,
onion stalks, simulating the
representing the brick mortar
beatings suffered in Egypt.
used by Israelite slaves in Egypt.
The Jews of Gibraltar actually
had the custom to mix a few
particles from real bricks into
their charoset!

 Jews from the coastal areas of

Morocco customarily go to the seashore
the morning of the first day after
Passover and dip their bare feet into
the water to symbolize the Israelites
crossing the Red Sea
during the Exodus.