Though we Jews eat a lot over the course of the year, the Passover Seder is our number one meal. In addition to the excessive eating there are of course many traditions and not everyone knows them all. Hence, I bring you David’s supplementary guide to the interactive Passover Seder, to help you understand what is going on.

BEGINNING THE SEDER

Drink Wine

We start the Seder by drinking wine, to let people know they are going to be there for a while.

When drinking, you lean like a king, so that you can spill on yourself. Apparently, kings used to spill a lot. Make sure the person sitting next to you did not just learn about the leaning aspect of the Seder. Last year, there was an excited Yeshiva student sitting to my right, resting his head in my lap. He was fervent and wanted to make sure he wasn’t leaning too little. He said “Do I look like a king? I feel like a king. Are kings supposed to choke on their food? Do all kings spill on the people sitting next to them?”

Remember the Number Four

Four is the number of the Seder. There are four questions, four sons, four cups of wine, four expressions of redemption, four hours till we are allowed to eat dinner.

Yachatz – Hide the Afikomen

After the head of the Seder washes his hands, which has no explanation, we break one of the pieces of Matzah and hide the bigger half, known as the Afikomen. This makes for a lot of fun at the end of dinner, when everybody wants to leave and we have to play a game of Find the Afikomen at midnight. This ends with a prize for the kids, because you’re too tired and frustrated to look for the Matzah, and surprised that somebody would place food in the laundry basket. Like today, in ancient times children used this ritual to negotiate for electronics.

MAGID

Prepare to spend three and a half hours on these eight pages of Hebrew. Drink more wine if you can.

We begin recounting the story with the beautiful invitation to the needy people that none of them ever take us up on.

Ma Nishtana

The four questions of the Seder, asked in song by the children who are too scared to perform in public, to make sure they are learning something at Jewish day school. If they can sing the Ma Nishtana, the twenty thousand dollars on Jewish education is worth it. If they can’t, it is going to be a long night of disappointment for that child and their parents.

It is important to note that we don’t really answer the questions. Instead, we talk about going out of Egypt for three and a half hours. It’s the longest answer to any question which will hopefully help to encourage the children to never ask a question again. One question I will be asking after 10:30pm is “Why are these kids still up?”

Slavery

Now we talk about slavery. Then, we are going to eat brisket, because that’s what slaves ate. If they were given a choice, they would’ve eaten brisket.

Different cultures have different traditions for expressing slavery. This is your time to be creative. I have been to Seders where people whip family members with scallions. There are so many ways to make servitude and captivity fun. It’s amazing how enslavement can bring a family together for some good laughs.

The Rabbis Who Stayed Up All Night

A beautiful story, where the students come to their rabbis to tell them that the time for the morning Shema prayer has come. We tell this story to quash any complaints about the Seder taking too long. The rabbis talked about it all night, you can sit and hear other people’s thoughts on the Ma Nishtana for a couple of hours.

Four Sons

The four different types of sons give all at the table the chance to be a psychologist. For the next hour and forty-five minutes, you will discuss the difference between the wise and simple son, and why Pinny had to stay back in fourth grade, and still doesn’t have the ability to sing the Ma Nishtana. A great chance for family therapy, you can also discuss why somebody would use scallions in such a violent manner.

Choosing who is which son always makes for good times. For example, if you want a good joke, you just say, “John, you are the evil son.” Everybody gets a good laugh out of this, looking at John, the now evil son who nobody likes.

The Ten plagues

What Seder is complete without the death of the firstborn, am I right?!

Here you need props or visual aids. Frogs can be little plastic jumping toys. Lice can be my niece who just got back from nursery school. Be careful with what you choose for the fake hail. Last year we used Styrofoam balls. That got all over the food which became an extra plague – trying to get the Styrofoam balls out of the Charoset. Blood can be represented by food coloring, or anything else that a child can use to stain their shirt, your shirt and the table cloth.

Then we read the acronym for plagues, just in case Egyptians understand Hebrew. We don’t want them finding out about this.

Now We Praise God

Now we are allowed to eat, and fittingly we praise God. This is what makes us Jews.

MEAL

Rachtzah to Barech

Now it is time for the meal, so you bring out an egg. That is how you get Jews worried. You just bring out an egg and don’t tell them there will be more coming. Let that settle in before bringing out the brisket, chicken, potato kugel, matzah ball soup, and Kosher for Passover cakes that are better than cakes with flour.

Now is the time at the Seder where we eat as much as we can, as you have not fulfilled the commandment of a Jewish holiday if you have not put on a good 10 pounds.

Find the Afikomen

The search for the Afikomen comes late at night. Now we are slaves to the Afikomen and whoever hid it.

You hid it. Where is it? Nobody wants to play hide and seek. It is already past midnight. The negotiation for the Matzah is on. Everybody wants to finish the meal… and that is how you get an electric bicycle.

This child who hid the Afikomen insists on not looking for it, unless he gets that bike. This child is the wicked son, extorting from his dad.

Hallel

More Hallel. Just make sure there is no chazzan at the dinner table. That will add another couple hours.

Now you drink the fourth cup of wine. You might want to make this grape juice, so that people don’t get nauseous or start revealing things about themselves that should have stayed a secret.

Eliyahu Hanavi – Elijah the Prophet

Open up the door for the ghost of Elijah, to scare the little kids. This ensures that when the kids finally get to sleep, they will have nightmares.

The Last Songs

Who Knows One?

Great song that I don’t know the answers to. The song goes on with “Who knows thirteen?” Nobody knows this. I feel like I am being tested. I didn’t realize I had to study for this. I had enough of a hard time coming up with answer for the Ma Nishtana.

Chad Gadya

For all those that are still awake, sing the One Little Goat song. This is a great sing a long for those who like to wake up the neighbors at 1am.

If you’ve still got something left in the tank sing Chad Gadya with the actual animal noises. If you can’t enjoy trying to sound like an animal now, you will never enjoy it. You may not know it but cousin Josee does a pretty good goat. Give her a reason to come back next year. This is where cousin Josee and all the people who didn’t understand the Hebrew for the first six hours shine.

And that, my pupils, is how you create memories! Remember to conclude your Seder with, “Next Year in Jerusalem” where you can join me and hear my excellent goat impersonation.

Chag Sameach!