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On April 23, from 6:00 to about 8:00pm, Dayspring Music Ministries will host a Passover Seder in Fellowship Hall, and I’ll be the leader.

What is a Passover Seder?

The word “seder” is the Hebrew word for “order,” as in “order of worship.” The event is a ritual retelling of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt in three main parts:

1) Before the meal, the story of bondage and redemption is recalled. The items on the traditional Seder plate are explained, there are stories and parables told, and the plagues of Egypt are recounted. Along the way, there are reminders of why it is important to remember this story and the lessons we are to learn from it. Both the leader and the participants take part, and there’s even a song to sing.

2) The meal itself. This is a festive dinner with all the trimmings. Our menu will be based on traditional Eastern European Seder meals, with most of the recipes coming from my family. There will be chicken soup with matzoh balls (both my mom’s recipes), roast turkey, carrot and potato dishes, and traditional Passover cakes, including my mother’s Passover honey cake. All the food will be prepared according to kosher rules: as there is meat being served, there can be no dairy, and no wheat is used. Matzoh and matzoh meal (used in place of flour) will all be kosher for Passover. (The Dayspring kitchen isn’t kosher, and we won’t be buying kosher turkeys, so this isn’t a kosher meal; we’re just observing the tradition. A kosher kitchen would have one set of utensils and table settings for meat dishes and another for dairy dishes. There would be a second set of everything that is used only at Passover, so a kosher kitchen needs four sets of everything.)

3) The thanksgiving after the meal. After the meal and the search for a hidden piece of matzoh (something to keep the kids occupied!), there is a celebration and recollection of the promise of redemption for all. There are more songs, and the event ends on a joyful note.

As background, you may wish to read the first part of Exodus. The first few chapters deal with the childhood and youth of Moses and Aaron. Exodus 7–11 describe the plagues, and the commandment to observe the Passover is recounted in Exodus 12 and 13.

Our Seder will take about two hours in all.

It’s worth keeping a few things in mind. First, the Seder has changed a great deal over the centuries. For example, a child usually asks a set of questions near the beginning of the Seder. While these are traditionally known as The Four Questions, there are actually five! At one time in the past, there were only three. Next, the Last Supper was some kind of commemoration of the Passover, but it was not a Seder as we understand it. Nevertheless, a great deal of the imagery in Christianity echoes symbols and ideas that come from the Hebrew Bible and specifically from the story of Exodus: Jesus is the new Moses; as the Hebrews were delivered from the bondage of slavery, so are Christians delivered from the bondage of death; Jesus is called the Paschal (i.e., Passover) Lamb, equating him with the sacrificial lambs whose blood the Hebrews daubed on the doorposts of their homes during the killing of the firstborn so that their sons would be spared. There are many other parallels. Finally, while communal Seders are possible and are held, this is primarily a family observance in the home. Despite its strongly ritualistic elements (it is, after all, an order—a seder), it is intimate and celebratory, much like American Thanksgiving.

The text of the Seder strongly emphasizes social justice. We are called to remember the suffering of the ancient Hebrews and to avoid inflicting suffering on others. While the Dayspring Seder will be somewhat abridged, it is not modified: this is a Seder based on the Reform Haggadah (“haggadah” means “telling” in Hebrew). I think it has a powerful message for the people of Dayspring.

This event is not only a spiritual experience, it is also meant as a fundraiser for the music program—primarily to support our performance of Elijah (who figures prominently in the Seder as the herald of the Messiah) in May. We are asking for a minimum donation of $10 ($25 for families of 3 or more), but please feel free to donate more! After the costs of the food are covered, the proceeds will go into the music fund. Please sign up by April 17 so that we know how many people to cook for. [RSVP Here]

I hope you will join us for this meaningful evening, which will take place on the traditional night of the Second Seder (devout households hold Seders on both the first and second nights of Passover, which lasts eight days).

~ David Schildkret, Director of Music Ministries