SEDER: Act 1

The table is set and the candles are lit. The table has, in a central place, the Seder Plate.

Seder Plate

Making the Kiddush
MATZAH: unleavened, cracker-like, bread; also known as "the bread of affliction."

MAROR: bitter herbs symbolic of the bitterness of slavery. Horseradish is often used.

EGG: a slightly singed hard-boiled egg, symbolic of fertility and rebirth.

KARPAS: parsley, radishes or boiled potatoes eaten with salt water; symbolizes both spring and the poor diet of slaves.

SALT WATER: Symbolizes the tears of oppression and slavery as well as liberation and its tears of joy.

HAROSETH: a mashed concoction of apples, nuts, wine, honey and cinnamon; eaten as a reminder of the mortar that the ancient Israelite slaves used in construction.

Z'ROAH: a charbroiled piece of meat, symbolizing the paschal lamb; literally means "outstreched arm" in reference to God's deliverance of the Israelites in the Hagaddah.

Haggadot are placed on every setting as well. The word "Haggadah" refers to the text of the seder. It is part poetry, part liturgy, and part didactic conversation. There are literally hundreds of Haggadot because, although each one tells essentially the same core story, Jews throughout history have exercised the imaginations in embellishing the story of Passover.

  • The Kiddush is recited by the leader of the seder. It consists of the traditional blessing over wine (Blessed are you God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine), supplemented with blessings recognizing the sanctity of Pesach.
  • The washing of hands by the seder leader.
  • The Karpas is dipped in salt water, blessed and the eaten.
  • The leader breaks the middle matzah into two uneven pieces. This recalls the splitting of Sea of Reeds. The larger piece, the Afikomen, is put under a napkin (it will a reappearence later in the Seder) while the smaller is placed between the two other matzahs.
  • An invitation: let all who are hungry come and share with us a piece of the bread of affliction.

Foward: Act 2