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Passover Seder 2024

Updated: Mar 30

Why is this Passover seder different from all other Passover seders?

Passover celebrates liberation. It celebrates freedom. It celebrates the exodus from slavery.

And yet. . . Over 100 Israeli hostages are not free to celebrate with their families this year. Our joy is diminished as we feel the lack of their presence at their seder tables. Seder means “order.” There are 15 moments in the seder, and none of them is untouched. Let’s take a journey through the Haggadah, through the lens of October 7th.


Kadesh- We begin by lighting candles and blessing the wine, the very symbol of rejoicing. This year we light an extra candle representing these souls who are missing from our community. “The human soul is a flame of God.” (Proverbs 20:27)


Urchatz- We wash our hands with no blessing. As we lift our hands, we remind ourselves of the need to use our hands to work for freedom and justice for all.


Karpas- A sprig of parsley dipped in salt water. A symbol of spring and the hope for new life. This year, we add salt, symbolizing the many tears shed by those whose have lost loved ones and those whose loved ones are still missing.


Yachatz- We break the middle matzah, recognizing the broken-ness of the world that was and is still with us. The matzah is hidden, to be reunited with its broken half at the conclusion of the seder, the Afikomen. May those who are hidden be reunited, bimhera b’yamenu, speedily and in our day.


Maggid- Telling the story. We begin with questions and add to the telling and questioning. So many questions haunt us. Why? Why so much hatred? Why so much evil? Why does this story of oppression occur and reoccur in every generation?


The Ten Plagues- Every year, we remind ourselves not to rejoice in the suffering of our enemies. A challenging and essential reminder.


Dayenu- Enough! When the hostages are free and the people of Israel are truly safe, only then will we say, “Dayenu.”


Rabban Gamliel tells us that we must mention:

Pesach- The Passover sacrifice. We remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have died in defense of the land of Israel.


Matzah- The simplest of food. We are grateful for the blessing of the abundance available to us, and pray for a time when hunger will be no more.


Maror- It is a bitter moment in the life of the Jewish people. We eat the maror this year with no charoset, in solidarity with the bitterness of loss and fear of our people.


Rachtzah- Now we roll up our sleeves and wash with a blessing, preparing ourselves for the ongoing work of freedom.


Motzi Matzah- “This is the bread of affliction.” Taste it. Feel it.


Maror- This year, we eat a bigger bite for the extra bitterness brought on by the unimaginable attack on Oct. 7 th , the most bitter of days.


Korech-This sandwich represents the two aspects of our nature- the yetzer ha-tov, the good inclination, the matzah, and the yetzer ha-ra, the evil inclination, maror. Even as we recognize that we each have both capabilities, we pray for ourselves and our world that we move ever forward towards the good.


Shulchan Orech- As we share a festive meal, we give thanks for the friends and family who share our hurt. The strength of community touches our hearts offering strength and comfort.


Tzafun- The hidden matzah has been found and restored to its place of honor on our seder table. May the hostages who are still hidden soon, very soon, NOW, YESTERDAY, may they be restored to our people.


Beirach- The blessing after the meal directs our hearts to the land of Israel. We pray for God’s compassion on the people of Israel, on Jerusalem, and on Tzion.


Sh’foch Chamatcha- “Pour Out Your Wrath”- At many of our seders, this is a troubling moment, as we cry out to God to pursue and destroy our enemies. Various haggadot have tempered the desire for revenge with the addition of a call for loving appreciation for the friends of the Jewish people.


In 2024, we have permission for a moment of pure anger. When we remember the way too many instances of violence directed towards us throughout our history, and viciously reignited at this moment, we can be forgiven for this desperate plea for the end of Jew-hatred.


Hallel- How can we praise God when our pain is so deep? The author of the psalms expresses that sense of being surrounded on all sides, of the struggle to have faith in the midst of fear and pain, trouble and sorrow. Is there any sense of comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our struggle?


Nirtzah- As the seder draws to a close, we pray the words, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Would that we might be blessed in the year ahead to visit the land of Israel, a land at peace and a land with families reunited, enjoying health and well-being.





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