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How to Host a Passover Seder

A seder is a ceremonial dinner service usually observed on the first or first and second nights of the Jewish holiday Passover. It's also a joyful occasion to gather with friends and family!


  • Step 1: Place matzos and seder plate on table Wrap three whole matzos in a cloth, and place them on the table, along with the seder plate.
  • Step 2: Place filled wine glass and Haggadah Set down a filled wine glass at each adult’s place setting. Also give each person a Haggadah, which contains the Exodus story and the guidelines for the ritual meal.
  • Step 3: Elder leads seder When all the guests have arrived, a designated person, usually an elder or one of the hosts, leads the seder.
  • TIP: While it is customary to complete all the steps of the seder, feel free to spend more or less time on the steps you find most or least interesting.
  • Step 4: Recite the Kiddush blessing Recite the Kiddush blessing over the wine. In some families, everyone holds their own cup for the blessing. In others, the Kiddush is said over one large cup, which is then distributed into individual glasses.
  • Step 5: Drink the first cup of wine Drink the first cup of wine. Attendees drink four cups of wine each throughout the seder to symbolize the four redemption promises found in Exodus: God tells the Jews he will take them out of Egypt, deliver them from bondage, redeem them with an outstretched arm, and acquire them to be God’s chosen people.
  • TIP: For children or those who prefer not to drink wine, you may substitute grape juice or another beverage.
  • Step 6: Wash your hands Wash your hands, either away from the table or using a pitcher and bowl passed around the table.
  • Step 7: Dip the karpas Dip the karpas, or green vegetable, symbolizing rebirth, into the salt water, representing the tears of slavery. Recite the corresponding blessing and eat. Celery or parsley is often used.
  • Step 8: Leader breaks the middle matzoh in two The leader breaks the middle matzo in two and places the smaller half back in the cloth between the other matzos. The other half is wrapped and hidden for the afikomen, which children will hunt for later in the evening. Fill the second cup of wine.
  • Step 9: Ask the four questions The youngest person at the seder asks the four questions, which encourage participation in the ritual. The questions are all meant to explain why this night is different from other nights.
  • TIP: Engage people, especially children, in discussion.
  • Step 10: Recite the Passover story Recite the Passover story found in the Haggadah. Drink the second cup of wine and wash hands as before, this time accompanied by the traditional blessing for washing hands, which can be found in the Haggadah.
  • Step 11: Recite blessing over remaining matzo Recite the blessing over the remaining matzo on the table. Each person eats a small piece from the top matzo and broken middle matzo. If there is not enough matzo from the seder plate to go around, supplement with some from a box.
  • Step 12: Dip the maror Dip the maror, or bitter herb (representing slavery’s bitterness), into the charoset, the sweet fruit and nut mixture that symbolizes the slave labor Jews performed with bricks and mortar. Recite the corresponding blessing and eat. Then, take pieces from the bottom matzo and make a sandwich with the chazeret, or second bitter herb, dipped into the charoset.
  • TIP: If the seder plate does not contain any chazeret you may also use the maror to make the sandwich.
  • Step 13: Eat dinner Eat dinner. Typical main dishes include brisket, matzo ball soup, and potato kugel. Many Passover meals begin with the egg on the seder plate dipped in salt water, a sign both of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and of new life.
  • Step 14: Hunt for the afikomen At some point while the adults are eating, the children hunt for the afikomen. Since the meal cannot finish without eating it, it is traditional for the children to ransom the afikomen in exchange for a prize, such as candy or a small toy.
  • Step 15: Fill your cup with wine Fill your cup with wine. Say the grace after meals and wine blessing as found in the Haggadah, and drink the third cup of wine.
  • Step 16: Pour the fourth cup of wine for Elijah Pour the fourth cup of wine, setting aside an extra glass of wine for the Prophet Elijah, and open the door for Elijah.
  • Step 17: Drink the fourth cup and eat the afikomen Sing psalms and recite the blessing over the wine. Drink the fourth cup of wine. After dinner, eat a piece of the afikomen. Don’t eat or drink anything else for the rest of the night.
  • Step 18: End ritual The ritual ends with a statement that the seder is done and the wish that Passover might be celebrated in Jerusalem next year, which signifies the hope that the messiah will come by then.
  • Step 19: Repeat seder It is customary for some to repeat the seder on the second night of Passover.
  • FACT: The word 'seder' means 'order' or 'arrangement.'

You Will Need

  • Dishes and utensils specifically for Passover
  • Large round matzoh and boxed matzoh
  • Clean cloth
  • Seder plate
  • Wine glasses
  • Haggadah books
  • Kosher wine
  • Salt water
  • Bowl
  • Kosher meal
  • A prize
  • such as candy or a small toy
  • Pitcher and bowl

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