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How to Have A Surprising Seder Using the Kehilla Home Haggadah

The Kehilla At-Home HAGGADAH

by Rabbi David J. Cooper

NOTE: The first two nights of Passover in 2022 are Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16.

Once again, the Kehilla easy-to-use, inclusive and interactive Haggadah is on-line for you to download. It is designed to get you and your guests to be creative and fully participatory and for your seder to be both inspiring as well as fun, and can be easily adapted to be age-appropriate for any age. It also is wonderfully unpredictable about what will emerge at your seder table.

This Haggadah provides a way to invite everyone who is coming to bring with them a poem, a story, a song or a thought on any one of several Passover themes and shows how these offerings can easily be integrated at just the right points in the seder proceedings.

You can copy the invitation below to edit for your guests and send it out to them as snail mail or email a week in advance. Download the PDF of the Haggadah and add your pictures or those by your kids to illustrate and enliven the pages and then make photocopies for all your guests. Cheap and creative.

You can download the Kehilla Home Haggadah & Instructions here.

A Sample Invitation Letter to Your Seder

Dear __________,

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 at least one of the following themes:

New beginnings
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.


Preparing for 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.

Use other printed haggadot (traditional and innovative) for readings, songs, extra prayers, or graphics to add to your haggadah print out.

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.

Matzah: One ceremonial matzah plate with three matzot, covered, then stacks of matzah within reach of people.

Salt Water: In small bowls around the table for dipping.

Parsley (and Eggs) for dipping.

Elijah’s Cup and Miriam’s Well or 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 Rabbi David .

Happy Pesach,

– Rabbi David J. Cooper

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