Tips for Using the Kehilla Home Seder
HOW TO HAVE A SURPRISING SEDER USING THIS HAGGADAH
Can you have a seder where no one person, no leader, knows exactly its content in advance? This Home Seder for Kehilla folk is short on words allowing space to invite people to bring in their own readings, stories, songs, poems, artworks related to the themes of Passover. [Don’t let the number of pages fool you; the service conclusion is less than halfway through the pages, the rest being supplementary songs.]
The seder calls these invited items “Offerings” and specifies suggested places where these offerings fit in the order of the service. Offerings are related to specific themes. We have 11 themes specified which can be subjects of offerings inserted into slots in the service. When reaching that spot, the seder officiant(s) invite anyone who brought an offering on the theme to present it or lead it.
But you should feel free to come up with other themes and insert them where you may.
So at least ONE WEEK BEFORE THE SEDER, you need to send to your invitees a note asking them to bring with them an offering. Here is suggested wording:
As you know you have been invited to our seder on _________________. In addition to whatever other assignment you may have been given, we want you to bring with you to our seder a spoken or sung “offering.” Instead of only following the written Haggadah (the seder service book) we are supplementing the service by bringing in material which we and our guests choose ourselves. In doing this we are following the mandate of the Haggadah which says “All who elaborate on the retelling of the exodus are praiseworthy.”
So bring with you a reading, a song, a poem, a story or anything that can be done at the seder table on any at least one of the following themes:
Breads of Native Peoples
The importance of asking questions
Feel free to interpret these themes as loosely as you choose, but do not feel too free to not bring an offering. The more that are offered, the better our seder will be.
Do not feel you must confine your offerings to Jewish sources, although Jewish sources would be wonderfully enlightening. Your offering can be humorous or serious, thought-provoking or fun. If your offering is “child-friendly” that is great. If it is not, then keep it fairly short. If your offering is participatory, then bring copies if people will need a word-sheet. We encourage you to make your offering personal to your own experience if you so choose. In so doing you will be pursuing the Haggadah’s mandate that all of us must see ourselves as part of the great exodus.
See you at the seder.
The Telling of the Story of Passover is on page 7 of the Haggadah. See the instructions there about the telling. Think what you might want to prepare in advance, if anything, for this segment. Consider if there are children and find an age appropriate way to share the story with them or have them share the story with you. Intersperse the telling with other songs such as those on pages 7 and 8 and others supplemented in the back. In the index all songs appear in bold and italicized.
Print out the haggadah and you or others (think children) can put illustrations in the many open spaces in the text. Then make multiple two-sided copies enough for your guests.
SETTING THE TABLE
What goes on the Seder Plate. This varies. Commonly it is:
Horseradish (whole or ground); Charoset; Parsley; Egg (roasted or boiled); a Lamb shank (or “paschal yam” or a Kehilla-style “matzah meal little lamb”); some add Endive or lettuce to supplement parsley and/or bitter herbs); and in Kehilla we add an Orange.
One ceremonial matzah plate with three matzot, covered, then stacks of matzah within reach of people.
In small bowls around the table for dipping.
Parsley (and Eggs) for dipping.
Elijah’s Cup and Miriam’s Well or Cup
Elijah’s Cup: A nice prettier, perhaps larger, cup filled with at the time of the first cup. Miriam’s Well: Can be a bowl or also can be a cup, decorated.
Handwashing bowl, cup and towel
Each seder group does this differently. Some have it on the table for a designated representative of the table to use, others pass it around the table for all. Some leave the handwashing equipment off the table until needed.
If you have suggestions for improving the Haggadah or instructions, email RabbiDavid@KehillaSynagogue.org
– Rabbi David J. Cooper