Online Seder 2020

Here is my revision of the Boston Jewish Collective’s  Haggadah,
for use as an online Seder during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.
This is a first Draft.  I will take suggestions and edit spelling and formating  4/8/2020
Download 30 page  draft as Word Doc   Wandering is Over Haggadah Online Seder



from the Jewish Boston Collective

Revised by Rick for an On-Line Seder
April 2020    Guest version

download copies at

The Haggadah (The Telling)

(edited for an on-line Seder by Rick during  the 2020  pandemic)

Introduction to read to ourselves in advance:  (Leader’s version has even more information.)
Seder script starts on page 6
Passover is a holiday celebrating and commemorating the Israelites’ liberation from slavery and their exodus from Egypt, as told in the beginning of the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible (and subsequently reinterpreted in several debatably good movies). Following the command that the story should always be taught to the next generation, Jews across time and space have celebrated this joyful holiday. As you might imagine, many aspects of the Passover celebration have withstood the millennia of observance, and many traditions have been added, taken away and changed over time. Now, the choice is yours.


This seder is generally designed to take about 45 minutes from start to finish  (oh sure, in JST) , and to be accessible to everyone. Make the experience your own by including additional readings or favorite family traditions. You can also create new traditions relevant for the guests with whom you will be sharing your seder.


No Meal: You’ll notice there is no meal right in the middle;  we’ll jump over the meal with a bite of matzah  and finish the “Order”  (the Seder), with the lovely ending often neglected after a great meal.


We will encourage lots of participation; that way everyone is invested in the experience and there will be more lively conversation.  This Haggadah deliberately minimizes the role of the leader so every guest can participate at his or her comfort level. A good way is to take turns reading aloud.  There’s not a lot of Hebrew in this Haggadah;  we can choose to read it in Hebrew or just read the English.


Nice if everyone has a

  • Wine glass for wine
    and wine or grape juice or something to pour the four glasses of joy!
  • Plain water to wash, twice
  • Salt water to dip greens in
  • Pillow for reclining


Setting the Table–  No worries here.  We are On-line. Do your own thing.
We will have a Seder plate to share visually as we make reference to its symbolic contents.

The Seder Plate

   The seder plate holds most of the main symbols we talk about during the seder. There are many beautiful seder plates handed down through generations, and certainly many that are available for purchase with a wide variety of artistry and cost. Several things have been added in recent times to the seder plate (listed below) and are optional but certainly meaningful. Although there might not be a designated place for these items on the average seder plate, feel free to add them where they fit or just put them on the table.

Roasted egg (Beitzah)
The roasted egg (yes, roasted!) symbolizes rebirth and springtime. Just as we grew into a free nation through our exodus from Egypt, the egg symbolizes growth and new life.

Bitter herb (Maror)

Generally, this is horseradish, which embodies the bitterness of slavery.

Chopped apples and nuts (Charoset)

This is the fruit-based mixture that represents the mortar of bricks we laid as slaves in Egypt. It’s also sweet, like freedom.  Just about every Jewish community in the world has its own take on charoset. A simple nice charoset is chopped apple and mashed dried fruit (golden raisins, apricots, or prunes) and honey.

Shank bone (Zeroah)

This is a symbol of the Passover lamb; our forefathers used its blood to mark their doorposts, and the angel of death passed over their homes in the Passover story.  Beets can work for vegetarians.

Lettuce (Chazeret)

Some people use a bitter lettuce to combine bitter herb and spring greens.  The more traditional
(and simpler) symbolism is fresh greens like parsley  that reflect the renewal of life.  Or potato!
Optional modern additions to the Seder Plate


  • Orange for LGBTQ and gender equality
  • Artichoke heart for the inclusion of interfaith families
  • Fair-trade chocolate or cocoa beans for economic freedom
  • Tomato for solidarity with those suffering from slavery and low wages,
  • Olive for peace in the Middle East
  • Cashews for support of American troops
  • Banana for standing with refugees
  • Pinecone to call out for criminal justice reform



Other Items you can add to your Table

Salt water to dip greens

Since you need to dip the spring greens/lettuce/parsley  in salty water.


Water for hand-washing- we do it twice.

If you’re so inclined, you may want to have a pitcher and bowl on a side table for the ritual washing that takes place. If not, people can get up and wash at the sink. For a contemporary riff on the ritual, pass around moist towelettes or hand sanitizer.


Matzah or similar

For the seder itself we have three pieces of matzah on a plate, covered by a cloth or napkin. Unlike the items on the seder plate, you will eat this matzah at specific points in the seder.  Extra matzah is welcome. No matzah?   Crackers would do.  Or make some yourself- ->wheat flour and water, bake.


Elijah’s Cup

Toward the end of the seder, it’s traditional to open the door to welcome in the prophet Elijah. If he does, in fact, come through your door, it’s probably a good idea to have some wine waiting for him in an extra glass. Some families have special, fancy wine goblets specifically made to be “Elijah’s Cup,” but any wine glass on the table not assigned to a guest will do. Some leaders fill Elijah’s Cup at the start of the seder; others wait until the part of the seder that specifically mentions Elijah.


Miriam’s Cup

Even though Miriam, the sister of Moses, plays an essential role in the Passover story, the traditional Haggadah text minimizes her by heavily focusing on the male figures. In the modern era and in progressive Judaism, there is great emphasis on egalitarianism and recognizing both our forefathers and foremothers. To celebrate Miriam’s contributions in the Exodus story, many have added a second cup. Miriam’s Cup is filled with water to symbolize Miriam’s well, which often provided much-needed water for the Israelites wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.  Miriam’s Cup and Elijah’s cup are often presented at the start of the Seder, but since we are “virtual”, we will mention them in section 12 the bareich .






The Well of Miriam (excerpt from Wikipedia)
“The Torah refers to her as “Miriam the Prophetess” and the Talmud names her as one of the seven major female prophets of Israel. Scripture describes her alongside of Moses and Aaron as delivering the Jews from exile in Egypt: “For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam”. According to the Midrash, just as Moses led the men out of Egypt and taught them Torah, so too Miriam led the women and taught them Torah

Miriam’s death is described in Numbers 20:1 and in the next verse, the Israelites are described as complaining of the lack of water at Kadesh. The text reads, “Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation.”

In Jewish folk-religious tradition this abrupt transition between her passing and the lack of water was explained by postulating a “well of Miriam” that dried up when she died. Further elaboration identified the rock that Moses struck to bring forth water in Exodus 17:5-6 with this well, and it was said that the rock travelled with the people until Miriam’s death.

The Talmud says, “Three great leaders led Israel: Moses, Aaron and Miriam. In their merit they received three great gifts: the Well [Miriam], the Clouds of Glory [Aaron] and the Manna [Moses].”     When Miriam died, the well was removed as is evidenced by the fact that immediately after the verse “And Miriam died”, There was no water for the community.

Rashi says that this well was the same rock from which Moses brought forth water after Miriam’s death. The Midrash states that when they encamped, the leader of each Tribe took his staff to the well and drew a line in the sand toward his Tribe’s encampment. The waters of the well were drawn after the mark and thus supplied water for each of the Tribes”    Get it? Got it? Good!

Next year in person!

Here comes the telling-  Haggadah

The Wandering Is Over Haggadah

(edited for on-line use by Rick during Pandemic 2020)



Let’s get started with our virtual on-line Seder
Nice if everyone has a

  • Wine glass for wine
  • Plain water to wash
  • Salt water to dip greens in
  • Pillow for recliningTonight we are gathered to celebrate Passover. Passover is a holiday commemorating the Israelites’ liberation from slavery and their exodus from Egypt, as told in the beginning of the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. Following the command that the story should always be taught to the next generation, Jews across time and space have celebrated this joyful holiday. As you might imagine, there are many aspects of the Passover celebration that have withstood the millennia of observance, and many traditions have been added, taken away and changed over time, as we have gained and lost freedoms in many ways.


Tonight we welcome everyone here to reflect on the meaning of freedom in each of our own lives, traditions and histories. We have the opportunity to consider our blessings, pledge to work harder at freeing those who still suffer, and try to cast off the things in our own lives that feel oppressive.


As we get started, get comfortable! Find a pillow to help you recline. In ancient times, eating while lounging on a pillow or couch was a sign of freedom.   Enjoy!


The Order of the Seder

Here is the roadmap of our Seder-
look it over and refer back to it is you feel lost in the “order”.

Our Passover meal is called a seder, which means “order” in Hebrew, because we go through 14 specific steps as we retell the story of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery.

Note that section 5 Telling the Story takes up about half of the whole Seder.
Note, in the right hand column,  the order starts and ends with the wine of joy,  and alternates between wine and water and Matzah.

קַדֵּשׁ kadeish 1 Kiddush (the blessing over wine)                               Wine 1
וּרְחַץ urchatz 2 Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the seder  Water
כַּרְפַּס karpas 3  Dipping a green vegetable in salt water                    Water
יַחַץ yachatz 4 Breaking the middle matzah, hiding afikoman      Matzah
מַגִּיד magid 5 Telling the story of Passover– Four Questions-
4 Children- Ten Plagues- Dayeinu- Symbols –
Wine #2   pages   13 -25 !                                                Wine 2
רָחְצָה rachtza 6 Ritual hand-washing  in preparation for matzah   Water
מוֹצִיא מַצָּה motzi matzah 7 The blessing over the meal and matzah                     Matzah
מָרוֹר maror 8 Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset                 Matzah
כּוֹרֵךְ koreich 9 Eating a Hillel sandwich of matzah and bitter herb Matzah
שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ shulchan oreich 10 Eating the meal                                                              Matzah
צָפוּן tzafoon 11 Finding and eating the afikoman                              Matzah
בָּרֵךְ bareich 12 Saying grace after “meal”                                            Wine 3
Inviting Elijah to come with Messiah
הַלֵּל hallel 13 Singing song that praises God- Go Down Moses    Wine 4
נִרְצָה nirtzah 14 Ending the seder and thinking about the future
“ Next year in person.”



1 Kiddush (the blessing over wine)


All Jewish celebrations, from holidays to weddings, include wine as a symbol of our joy—not to mention a practical way to increase that joy.
  (Pour first glass of wine.)

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who creates the fruit of the vine.

We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, who created a heritage that endures through the ages, ever changing and ever meaningful. We thank You for the many opportunities for holiness as we celebrate this joyous holiday of matzah together, remembering the liberation, the Exodus from Egypt. We praise you, God, who makes us holy in our celebration.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה:


Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this joyous season.

(Drink the first glass of wine!)




2 Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the seder


As in many world cultures and religions, water is a symbol of purification in Judaism. We will wash our hands twice during our seder—now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come, and then again later, with a blessing, to prepare us to eat

You can wash your hands by sprinkling them with water from your fingertips, right on left, left on right, right on left.  Or use a moist wipe.  Or run to the sink and sing “Happy Pesach” twice while you lather up, scrub, and rinse.


Celebrating Passover gives us all the opportunity to pause and reflect on what brings us together.


Let’s take a moment to consider what we hope to get out of our Seder.  Speak if you wish and  share one hope or expectation you have, or something you want to learn at tonight’s seder.




3 Dipping a green vegetable in salt water


Passover, like many Jewish holidays, combines the celebration of an event from Jewish history and memory, as well as the continued cycle of our natural world. As we remember the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, we also welcome the beginning of spring, the budding of new plants and rebirth happening in the world around us. We now take a vegetable, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. Many use a green vegetable such as parsley or celery.  Some people, primarily from Northern and Eastern Europe, have a tradition of using a boiled potato since greens are few there at Passover time. Whatever symbol of spring and sustenance we’re using, we now dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears the Israelites shed as slaves. Before we eat it, we recite a short blessing:


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.
We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who creates the fruits of the earth.


We look forward to spring and the reawakening of flowers and greenery. They haven’t been lost, just buried beneath the snow, getting ready for reappearance when we most need them.


 Speak if you wish.  We all have aspects of ourselves that sometimes get buried under the stresses of our busy lives. What has this winter taught us? What elements of our own lives do we hope to revive this spring?




4 Breaking the middle matzah


Matzah.  Just wheat and water.  Three pieces of matzah are stacked on the table.  In a moment we will break the middle matzah into two pieces.   Our host will wrap up the larger of the pieces and hide it under one of twelve cloths representing the tribes of Israel.   This piece is called the afikoman, literally “dessert” in Greek.   We will have matzah for appetizer, matzah for a snack, matzah for dinner, and then matzah for dessert.  After our “dinner”, all of us “children” will have to “hunt” for the hidden afikoman, and whoever finds it will win a prize!  Ready let’s go.


We eat matzah, unleavened bread, to remind us that the Israelites fled Egypt so quickly that their bread did not have time to rise.


Uncover and hold up the three pieces of matzah and say:


This is the bread of poverty that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat; all who are needy come and celebrate Passover with us. This year we are here; next year we will be in Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free.


While we recline and enjoy our Passover celebration, we are reminded not only of the history that we commemorate, but also of our obligation to make our world better for those still enslaved, whether in bondage or by poverty or circumstance. We are commanded to seek out those who are hungry, to share in our bread of affliction. We seek to ensure that the story of slavery is our past, not our present or future.

Unfortunately, slavery exists in many forms in our world and for each of us.  Speak if you wish about how we can take these words to heart this Passover?




5 Telling the story of Passover

Pour your second glass of wine.


The Haggadah doesn’t tell the story of Passover in a chronological fashion. We don’t start with Moses being found by the daughter of Pharaoh; actually, we don’t hear much of Moses at all. Instead, we get an impressionistic collection of songs, images and stories of both the Exodus and from Passover celebrations through the centuries. Some say that minimizing the role of Moses keeps us focused on the miracles God performed for us. Others insist that we keep the focus on the role that every member of the community has in bringing about positive change.

The Questions  The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a series of questions and answers. The tradition that the youngest person at the seder asks the questions reflects the importance of sharing the story, symbolism and purpose with the next generation. Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life; the rabbis who formatted the seder sought to teach this important story through these questions.

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת? Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?
Why is this night different from all other nights?


שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילו

אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה.

הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מַצָּה:

Shebichol haleilot

anu ochlin chameitz u-matzah.

Halaila hazeh kulo matzah.

On all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah. Tonight, we only eat matzah.


שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת

אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת.

הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר:

Shebichol haleilot

anu ochlin shi’ar yirakot.

Halaila hazeh maror.

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables.  Tonight, we eat bitter herbs.


שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת

אֵין אָֽנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּֽעַם אֶחָת.

הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים:

Shebichol haleilot

ain anu matbilin afilu pa-am echat.

Halaila hazeh shtei pa-amim.

On all other nights we aren’t expected to dip our vegetables one time.
Tonight, we do it twice.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת

אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין.

הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּֽנוּ מְסֻבִּין:

Shebichol haleilot

anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin.

Halaila hazeh kulanu m’subin.

On all other nights we eat either sitting normally or reclining. Tonight, we recline.





Answering Our Questions

עֲבָדִים הָיִינו.

עַתָּה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין:

Avadim hayinu.

Ata b’nei chorin.

We were slaves. Now we are free.


We were slaves to Pharaoh, and God took us from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. Had God not brought our ancestors out of captivity, then even today we and our children and our grandchildren would still be slaves. Even if we were all wise and the most knowledgeable scholars, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the Exodus.


The Four Children

     Jewish tradition tells of four children with unique ways of understanding Passover:
the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child and the silent child.
Yet we know that no child is all wise, all wicked, all simple or incapable of asking anything. At different points in our lives, we have been each of these children.


What does the wise child say?

The wise child asks diligently, “What are the testimonies and laws which God commanded you?”


What does it mean to be the wise child?

It means to be fully engaged in the community, to know the limits of your understanding, to be able to search for the answers to that which you do not know.


At different points in our lives, we have been this child—inquisitive, caring, eager to learn and to understand, wiling to ask for information we do not have, hopeful that an answer can be found.


What does the wicked child say?

The wicked child asks, “What does this service mean to you?”

To you and not to himself or herself.


What does it mean to be the wicked child?

It means to stand apart from the community, to feel alienated and alone, depending only on yourself, to have little trust in the people around you to help or answer your questions.

At different points in our lives, we have been this child—detached, suspicious, challenging.


What does the simple child say?

The simple child asks, “What is this?”


What does it mean to be a simple child?

It means to see only one layer of meaning, to ask the most basic of questions, to be too innocent or impatient to grasp complicated questions.

At different points in our lives, we have all been this child—simply curious and innocently unaware of the complexities around us.


What about the child who doesn’t know how to ask a question?

Help this child ask. Start telling the story: “It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”


What does it mean to be the silent child?

This can be the indifferent child, no longer willing to engage. It can be the passive child, who just shows up. Or it can be the child whose spiritual life is based on faith, not rational arguments, the child who hears something deeper than words, who knows how to be silent and to listen to the surrounding silence.

At different points in our lives, we have all been this child—unable to articulate, quiet, searching for the right words, listening in silence


  We have asked the cleverest of questions; we have challenged provocatively; we have simply wanted to know the answer; and we have been so confused that we could not speak. We have been all of these children. Which one are you tonight?



Telling Our Story


Our story starts in ancient times with Abraham, who followed God’s command and became the very first believer. The idea of one God, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.


God made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth.”


Raise your glass of wine and say (but do not drink wine yet.)

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ. V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.
This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.


For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation, there are those who rise against us. But God saves us from those who seek to harm us.


        Put down your glass of wine.  (You will drink it in a few minutes.)


In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers multiplied, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and his advisers became alarmed by this great nation flourishing within their borders, so they enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, perhaps even build pyramids. Our oppressors feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and overthrow them, so Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned in the Nile.

But God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention.



The Ten Plagues


As we rejoice at the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge this freedom was hard-earned. We regret that freedom came at the cost of others’ suffering, for we are all made in the image of God. Therefore, we take away just a little bit of our joy of wine by placing a drop of it on our plates as we recite each of the Ten Plagues.


Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass to get a drop for each plague.


דָּם dam Blood
צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ tzfardeiya Frogs
כִּנִּים kinim Lice
עָרוֹב arov Beasts
דֶּֽבֶר dever Cattle disease
שְׁחִין sh’chin Boils
בָּרָד barad Hail
אַרְבֶּה arbeh Locusts
חֹֽשֶׁךְ choshech Darkness
מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת makat b’chorot Death of the firstborn


The Ten Plagues wreaked havoc on the country of Egypt and all its inhabitants, including the mighty Pharaoh. They ruined livestock and agriculture, water and health, staples in ancient society as well as today. While the plagues in our story have a clear message and purpose, they are still often things that plague our world today. What else might you add to this list? What are the plagues of our day? What work can we do to rid our world of them?


The Modern Plagues
The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:


Discrimination and hatred,
Silence amid violence,
Environmental Destruction,
Stigma of Mental Illness,
Ignoring Refugees,


Optional readings- Maybe best to read these ourselves later.


In any given year, about 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness, about a third of them children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed the majority of major cities lack the capacity to shelter those in need and are forced to turn people away. We are reminded time and again in the Torah that the Exodus is a story about a wandering people, once suffering from enslavement, who, through God’s help, eventually find their way to their homeland. As we inherit this story, we affirm our commitment to pursue an end to homelessness.



About 49 million Americans experience food insecurity, 16 million of them children. While living in a world blessed with more than enough food to ensure all of God’s children are well nourished, on Passover we declare, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” These are not empty words, but rather a heartfelt and age-old prayer to end the man-made plague of hunger,



Access to affordable housing, quality health care, nutritious food and quality education is far from equal. The disparity between the privileged and the poor is growing, with opportunities for upward mobility still gravely limited. Maimonides taught, “Everyone in the house of Israel is obligated to study Torah, regardless of whether one is rich or poor, physically able or with a physical disability

access to basic human needs, based on one’s real or perceived identity, like race, gender or disability, is a plague, antithetical to the inclusive spirit of the Jewish tradition.



In the Talmud, the sage Ben Zoma asks: “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with one’s lot.” These teachings evidence what we know in our conscience—a human propensity to desire more than we need, to want what is not ours and, at times, to allow this inclination to conquer us, leading to sin. Passover urges us against the plague of greed, toward an attitude of gratitude.


Discrimination and hatred

The Jewish people, as quintessential victims of hatred and discrimination, are especially sensitized to this plague in our own day and age. Today, half a century after the civil rights movement in the United States, we still are far from the actualization of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated in Washington, D.C., a vision rooted in the message of our prophets. On Passover, we affirm our own identity as the once oppressed, and we refuse to stand idly by amid the plagues of discrimination and hatred.


Silence amid violence

Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. Each year, more than 108,000 Americans are shot intentionally or unintentionally in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, accidental shootings and by police intervention. One in five children has seen someone get shot. We do not adequately address violence in our society, including rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, even though it happens every day within our own communities.


Environmental destruction

Humans actively destroy the environment through various forms of pollution, wastefulness, deforestation and widespread apathy toward improving our behaviors and detrimental civic policies. Rabbi Nachman of Brezlav taught, “If you believe you can destroy, you must believe you can repair.” Our precious world is in need of repair, now more than ever.


Stigma of mental illness

One in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. Even more alarming, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and minority communities are the least likely to search for or have access to mental health resources. Social stigma toward those with mental illness is a widespread plague. Historically, people with mental health issues have suffered from severe discrimination and brutality, yet our society is increasingly equipped with the knowledge and resources to alleviate the plague of social stigma and offer critical support.

Ignoring refugees

We are living through the worst refugee crisis since the Holocaust. On this day, we remember that “we were foreigners in the land of Egypt,” and God liberated us for a reason: to love the stranger as ourselves. With the memory of generations upon generations of our ancestors living as refugees, we commit ourselves to safely and lovingly opening our hearts and our doors to all peace-loving refugees.



When faced with these modern plagues, how often do we doubt or question our own ability to make a difference? How often do we feel paralyzed because we do not know what to do to bring about change? How often do we find ourselves powerless to transform the world as it is into the world as we know it should be, overflowing with justice and peace?


Written in collaboration with the clergy at Temple Israel of Boston





Dayeinu (It would have been enough)

The plagues and subsequent redemption are but one example of the might and protection of God. As we tell this story of triumph, we sing the words of Dayeinu (“It would have been enough”), for just a single act of love from God would have sufficed, and yet God continues to show us compassion.


אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם,


Ilu hotzianu mi-mitzrayim,


If God had only taken us out of Egypt,

that would have been enough!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה


Ilu natan lanu et ha-Torah,


If God had only given us the Torah,

that would have been enough!


Dayeinu tells the entire story of the Exodus from Egypt as a series of miracles God performed for us. It also reminds us that each of our lives is the cumulative result of many blessings, small and large.


If God had taken us out of Egypt and not judged the Egyptians,   Dayeinu.

If God had judged the Egyptians, and not their idols,     Dayeinu.

If God had judged their idols, and not killed their firstborns,     Dayeinu.

If God had killed their firstborns, and not given us their wealth,  Dayeinu.

If God had given us their wealth, and not torn the sea in two,    Dayeinu.

If God had torn the sea in two, and not let us through it on dry land,  Dayeinu.
If God had let us through on dry land, and not drowned our enemies,  Dayeinu.

If God had drowned our enemies, and not sustained us with manna in the desert for 40 years,  Dayeinu.
If God had fed us manna, and had not given us Shabbat,  Dayeinu.
    If God had given us Shabbat, and had not brought us to Mount Sinaa,  Dayeinu.

If God had brought us to Mount Sinai, and had not given us the Torah,  Dayeinu.

If God had given us the Torah, and had not brought us to the land of Israel,  Dayeinu.

If God had brought us to the land of Israel, and not built the Temple for us,   Dayeinu.


What are the blessings in your life? Go around the table and share, if you wish, the things you feel grateful for in your life, both small and large.

The Passover Symbols

    We have now told the story of Passover…but wait! We’re not quite done. There are still several symbols on our seder plate we haven’t explained. Rabban Gamaliel would say that whoever didn’t explain the shank bone, matzah and maror (bitter herbs) hasn’t done justice to Passover.


The shank bone represents the “pesach,” the special lamb sacrifice made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. During the final plague, the Israelites were instructed to smear lamb’s blood on the lintel of their homes so the angel of death would pass over their homes. The sacrifice and now the shank bone are called pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God passed over the houses of the Israelites when inflicting plagues upon their Egyptian oppressors.


The matzah on our table reminds us that when the Israelites were finally freed from bondage, they rushed to leave Egypt before Pharaoh could change his mind. As they fled, the dough they made for bread did not have time to fully rise, so they ate flat matzah instead. During Passover, we also eat matzah and refrain from eating anything that is leavened or can rise.


The bitter herbs symbolize the bitterness of slavery,  the life of hard labor the Israelites experienced in Egypt.


     During our Passover seder, we are reminded over and over again to tell this important story of freedom to each other and to those who will come after us. We do this to remember, to feel a connection to the story of the Israelites so we will never take our freedom for granted. Every generation is plagued with different challenges to freedom, and our story takes on new meanings throughout hundreds and hundreds of years.
In the modern era, alongside the symbols of old, newer elements have been added to many seder plates to remind us of present-day struggles and triumphs.   So how was it that the orange found its place on the seder plate as a symbol of feminism, egalitarianism and those who are often marginalized?


The story has it that scholar Susannah Heschel, daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a preeminent modern Jewish philosopher, was inspired by the abundant new customs expressing women’s viewpoints and experiences and started placing an orange on the seder plate.
At an early point in the seder, she asked each person to take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit and eat the segment in recognition of all those in our midst who feel marginalized in the Jewish community. She encouraged each guest to spit out the seeds in their orange segment to reject hatred and homophobia. The bright and vibrant orange suggests the fruitfulness for the whole community when everyone is a valued and respected member.



In Every Generation


בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ,

כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם:

B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatza mimitzrayim.
In every generation, everyone is obligated to see themselves

as though they personally left Egypt.


The seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed; God redeemed us too along with them. That’s why the Torah says, “God brought us out from there in order to lead us to and give us the land promised to our ancestors.”


The Second Glass of Wine
(pour a second glass of wine)

We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, who redeemed us and our ancestors from slavery, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzah and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who creates the fruit of the vine.


Drink the second glass of wine!





Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the matzah


As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to eating some food, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual, recalling the way ancient priests once prepared for service in the Temple.


(Some people distinguish between washing to prepare for prayer and washing to prepare for food by changing the way they pour water on their hands. For washing before food, pour water three times on your right hand and then three times on your left hand. After you have poured the water over your hands, recite this short blessing.)


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו

וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav

v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.



מוֹצִיא מַצָּה

7 motzi matzah

The blessing over the matzah


We mark this time with the blessing of bread, familiar from Shabbat, now for Passover and spoken over unleavened bread. Because we are using matzah instead of bread, we add a blessing celebrating this Passover holiday.


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,

hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.

We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who brings forth bread from the earth.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו

וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav

v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who made us holy by commanding us to eat matzah.


(Distribute the top and middle matzah for everyone to eat.)





8 Dipping the bitter herb  (in sweet charoset)


(In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. As we taste the bitterness of the herb, we are grateful for the sweetness of our delicious charoset. )


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו

וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מָרוֹר:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav

v’tzivanu al achilat maror.

We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who made us holy by commanding us to eat bitter herbs.



Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb (Hillel sandwich)


When the Temple stood in Jerusalem more than a thousand years ago, the most important sacrifice was the pesach, or lamb sacrifice. The great sage Hillel would put the lamb meat in a sandwich made of matzah, along with some of the bitter herbs. While Jews no longer make sacrifices, we honor this custom by eating a sandwich of the remaining matzah and bitter herbs. Many will also include charoset in the sandwich to remind us again of the sweetness of freedom.


(Place some bitter herb and maybe greens or charoset between two small pieces of matzah.  Eat. Yum.)


שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ

shulchan oreich

10 The “meal” !


We are together on-line, a miracle of the ingenuity with which God has blessed us.
(Have some more matzoh or charoset or whatever you have.  Chips and dips.  Take outs. Relax, eat and enjoy friends, family and guests!)
   Let us remind each other of some of the wonderful meals we have shared with family and friends, a favorite dish prepared by someone dear to us,  Passover or any other meal with family and friends. Stories of guests, or spills, or weather, or entertainment, or clothes, anything from our rich experience of being free to celebrate meals and friendship and family.
(When we’re done chatting, we’ve got a little more seder to go, including the final two cups of wine.)




11 Finding and eating the afikoman


The fun and excitement of racing to search for and hopefully find the afikoman reminds us that we balance our difficult collective memories of slavery with a joyous and grateful celebration of freedom. As we eat the afikoman, our dessert and our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for these moments with our friends and family.
(Our Leader will lead us in guessing where the afikoman is hidden.  Whoever guesses the correct location receives the prize of opening the door for Elijah in the next section.)




12 Saying the blessing for the meal, and for the wine (#3)
and inviting Elijah the prophet  to be present


Refill your wine glass. #3


We now say the blessing after the meal, thanking God for the food we have eaten. On Passover, we continue celebrating our joy of freedom by finishing this blessing with our third glass of wine:


  We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, whose goodness sustains the world. You are the origin of love and compassion, the source of sustenance for all. We praise God, source of sustenance for all.

    As it says in the Torah: When you have eaten and are satisfied, give praise to your God who has given you this good earth. We praise God for the earth and for its sustenance.

   Renew our spirits in our time. We praise you, God, who centers us. May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the house of Israel, and to the entire world. Amen.


(The Third Glass of Wine which you filled above)



בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,
who creates the fruit of the vine.


(Drink the third glass of wine!)


The Cup of Elijah


We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet Elijah to join our seder and drink from his glass of wine with us.
(Fill wine glass but do not drink yet. After we wing we will drink our final glass.)


In the Bible, Elijah was a fierce defender of God to a disbelieving people.  At the end of his life, rather than dying, he was brought directly up to God on a chariot. Some believe Elijah will return to herald a new era of peace, so we set a place for Elijah, hopeful that he may join us and bring peace to the whole world.

(The Hebrew opening  will be sung)

אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַנָּבִיא, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַתִּשְׁבִּי,

אֵלִיָּֽהוּ, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ,אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַגִּלְעָדִי.

בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽנוּ יָבוֹא אֵלֵֽינוּ

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד,

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד.

Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu hatishbi

Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi

Bimheirah v’yameinu, yavo eileinu

Im mashiach ben-David,

Im mashiach ben-David.

Elijah the prophet, the returning, the man of Gilad:
return to us speedily, in our days with the messiah, son of David.




13 Singing songs that praise God   &  Wine #4


This time in the Seder is for singing, which is usually not successful on-line.  The best way in 2020 is for everyone to mute themselves and sing along with the leader.
We’ll start with Let My People Go. (Next page)
Our unmuted leaders for each of the four verses will  be
Rick,  Rikki,    Holliday,  Jenny,
and then repeating the first verse  ______(who? Miranda ? Sophie?)
and everyone else will sing along with microphones muted.

After Let my People Go…..
Some of us might unmute and sing traditional prayers from the Book of Psalms. Others take this moment to sing (for us to sing along muted)  “If I had a Hammer” or ”Chad Gadya (not recommended for us, it’s been a train wreck).”  Or other songs. To celebrate our freedom, we might sing songs from the civil rights movement, or other songs of triumph over struggle. Or perhaps someone at the table has some parody lyrics about Passover to the tunes from a musical or a Beatles song! We’re at least three glasses of wine into the night, so just roll with it!)

Let My People Go

“When Israel was in Egypt land, let my people go”

“Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go”

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, let my people go


“Thus saith the Lord,” bold Moses said, “Let my people go”

“If not I’ll smite your firstborn dead, let my people go”

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, let my people go


“No more shall they in bondage toil, let my people go”

“Let them come out with Egypt’s spoils, let my people go”

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, let my people go


“When people stop this slavery, let my people go”

“Soon may all the earth be free, let my people go”

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, let my people go


The Fourth Glass of Wine praising God and our freedom
(Pour a fourth glass of wine if needed.)

As we come to the end of the seder, we drink a final glass of wine.  (Raise the glass of wine)
 With this last cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that remind us to be grateful for all we have, for celebrating with friends and family and seeking to make the world a better place, where all are free.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם

בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise you, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe,

who creates the fruit of the vine.

Drink the fourth and final glass of wine!



15  Ending the seder and thinking about the future


We have come to the end of our seder. We hope to have the opportunity in the years to come to continue telling this story of freedom with our loved ones. We pray this coming year brings health and healing, joy and liberation, gratitude and wonder to all the people of the world.


And we say:

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim!

 Next Year in Jerusalem                                    ( end)