passover seder resources for interfaith families
March 23, 2014 1:23 PM   Subscribe

So I'm hosting a seder! The twist: I am not Jewish. Where do I begin?

I am not Jewish, but my son and partner are. This year we decided to have a seder at our house, and I don't know where to start! My mother-in-law will help, but I want to be involved in picking the Haggadah, cooking, etc. We have a toddler, so shorter would be better. And I have this crazy idea about making my own gefilte fish ... I would love any recipes, suggestions, and resources for Jewish interfaith families y'all have to suggest.
posted by yarly to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite and are good starting points.
posted by judith at 1:47 PM on March 23, 2014

The most important things are to yell out the plagues really loudly all together, coo admiringly over the youngest person after s/he does the Four Questions, take BIG gulps of Manischevitz when it's time to "sip" the wine, and feel free to skip over all the "in 1352 Rabbi Schlomo Whateverstein had an alternative interpretation of..." etc....(who cares? big waste of time... remember that everyone is HUNGRY.)
posted by DMelanogaster at 1:56 PM on March 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

The most important thing you can do is talk to your partner and in-laws. Ask questions. Lots of questions.

What food needs to be there for it to "really" be a Seder, besides the stuff on the Seder plate? What's on the Seder plate- do they put a potato on there? What's their family recipe for charoset? Bottled or fresh horseradish? Do they throw an orange on there? (And, in general, what are their feelings on egalitarianism? Would they prefer a gender-neutral Haggadah? Do they do Miriam's cup?) Are there any other family specific rituals you should know about? (Anything from actually having reclining chairs and having your bags packed, ready to "flee" to what they do for Elijah's cup)

How much of the ritual needs to be there for it to "really" be a Seder? How much Hebrew vs. English? Do they like discussing Rabbi Akibah, and saying each word of the Birkat Hamazon? Or can you skim through some bits? Are there any of the "back of the book" songs they like to sing?

And regarding your son: Is he old enough to do the four questions (or even to "do" the four questions?) What's your take on the Afikoman? (Does he get to hide it? If not, who hides it? And when he or another kid finds it- how much to they get to ransom it for?) Also, I highly recommend something like this.

For Haggadot, feel free to pick and choose. If you find something you like from two or three or four, make photocopies and put together your own- remember that this is not an authoritative text, and commentary is not only recommended, but required.

Interfaith Family has a guide as well, including one titled Your Turn to Host the Seder which might be helpful, and even has some downloadable Haggadot.
posted by damayanti at 2:19 PM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

The best thing I ever did for passover was to track down several newer, "progressive" haggadot and then, via kinko's, xerox together our very own haggadah filled with all the stuff we like and want to do, and without any of the stuff we want to skip.

The second best thing I ever did was to follow the example in one of those haggadot I bought - make the last page of the hagaddah a sort of guest book sheet for the person who used it at that seder to sign. Now, 15+ years later, part of the fun of passover is looking back at all those signatures and remembering the various people in our life who came to our seders.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:06 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a non-Jew who's attended 3 Seders at the home of a dear friend by now (his family Seders have typically consisted of his mother, two of her friends, and him, and sometimes he would invite me if he got sick of being the youngest person and having to do the four questions all the damn time). They have a very mix-and-match approach to picking what parts of which haggadot they use, and there are bits they've skipped altogether sometimes. But what I appreciated most is that they left a lot of room for just plain old discussion - rather than going through the full-on Haggadah unabridged, they used it as a jumping-off point for discussions about religion, justice, freedom, personal integrity - the kinds of heady things you talked about at 4 am in college but haven't talked about since. That bit was awesome.

Mind you, this probably works best if you're working with very Reform Jews who don't necessarily stand on ceremony.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:19 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like salmon gefilte fish.
posted by brujita at 6:33 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

This had been my all time favorite haggadah for any seder that wants to seriously get the flow and basic content of the traditional Passover haggadah in mode that is egalitarian, feels progressive, is almost all English while still using enough Hebrew to keep some basic terminology alive, is very friendly for a mixed background/religion group, lends itself to sharing leadership, is good for starting conversations, and is free to print as many copies as you'd like.

A Passover Haggadah, Compiled and Adapted, 1985-2000, by Robert Parnes

The seder is meant to be very kid oriented, and yet it should be relevant and renewable to adults year after year for returning and to the stories and the questions and the conversation so I wouldn't gear it totally around the toddlers; there should be an aspirational element they can grow into.

There are also a ton of fun and easy songs, but that is not my area of expertise, unfortunately. It can be fun to start learning the songs with the kids in the weeks leading up so they can feel fully involved the night of.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:28 PM on March 27, 2014

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