Religion & Beliefs

5 Alternative Seder Styles for a Personalized Passover

Less-than-inspired by the traditional Passover seder? Burnt out on the same old Four Questions? Searching for soup sans chicken, or a song to replace "Who Knows One"? Why not shake things up with an alternative or themed seder? Here are … Read More

By / April 1, 2008

Less-than-inspired by the traditional Passover seder? Burnt out on the same old Four Questions? Searching for soup sans chicken, or a song to replace "Who Knows One"? Why not shake things up with an alternative or themed seder? Here are five ideas to get you started. Try one, or mix them up.

Eco-Seder

  • Buy all organic foods, from local venders, when possible.
  • When you’re dealing with fresh veggies and kosher meat or fish you don’t have to worry about things being kosher for Passover, so you won’t spend insane amounts of money buying margarine made in Monsey or whatever.
  • The Jew and the Carrot has a great list of Kosher Organic wines for your four cups.
  • Plan on talking about freedom from oil dependency, and about the benefits of living a greener life. Remember, we were heading towards a land of milk and honey, not of formula and corn syrup.
  • You can list ten plagues of waste, four sons who react differently to global warming, and four questions about how we can change our individual and collective behavior in the future.
  • Birkenstocks optional.

Freedom Seder

  • There are still literally millions of slaves in the world. On a holiday when we celebrate our freedom as Jews, it makes sense to spend some time exploring the issue of contemporary slavery.
  • Head to Not For Sale to get educated on the issue, learn about abolition activism, and donate money to free slaves.
  • Stories of redemption told side by side, whether they involve crossing the Red Sea of using the Underground railroad, are always thought provoking, and you can brainstorm ways to get the larger community more involved in abolition advocacy and programming.
Interfaith Seder
  • If you can gather a mix of faiths at one table and talk about how each person views their personal slaveries and redemption (because remember, it’s as if you personally came out of Egypt), you’re bound to have an interesting evening.
  • If you want some help guiding your seder, try the one at Interfaith Family.
  • Ask each guest to bring a kosher for Passover interpretation of a classic dish from their community, and host a discussion about the ways that communities pigeonhole each other, and how interfaith dialogue can redeem us from self-imposed slavery.
  • Open the door for a Unitarian, instead of Elijah. Be sure to have grape juice on hand for those who can’t drink wine, and ask everyone to teach a song at the end.
Women’s Seder
  • There are a number of feminist haggadahs and women’s seders available.
  • If you want to start your own, invite your girlfriends for a night of female bonding over good wine and Miriam’s cup.
  • Retell all the parts of the haggadah focusing on the female characters—the midwives, Shifra and Puah, Pharaoh’s daughter, and Miriam.
  • Put some Debbie Friedman on the stereo.
  • Ask your guests to each bring a short story, essay, or poem to share by or about a Jewish woman they admire.
  • Make sure to have plenty of oranges on hand for the seder plate.
Veggie/Vegan Seder
  • There’s nothing free or fair about the lives of animals raised for food. Passover is an opportunity to reflect on our own freedom, as well as the lack of freedom other living creatures face.
  • Pick up some copies of Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb, which focuses on vegetarianism and animal rights.
  • The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook includes a menu for a seder table. Better yet, the Vegetarian Pesach Cookbook features recipes specific to the holiday.
  • Talk about what you can sacrifice in your own lives to replace and honor the symbolic, sacrificial lamb.
  • Replace the egg on the traditional seder plate with a flower to represent life and Spring.
  • Replace the shank bone on the traditional seder plate with a beet, as allowed in the Talmud.
  • Use this quote from Einstein as a jumping off point for discussion: "A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."
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