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Hosting Your First Passover Seder as a Jewish Convert

14 Mar 2023 10:07 AM | Franklin Jester (Administrator)

By Franklin Jester

Passover, also known as Pesach, is a significant holiday in our calendar that celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. As a convert to Judaism, this was one of the few holidays I was already familiar with, and I was eager to celebrate. Hosting a Seder, or the traditional meal and ritual held during Passover, is a great way to feel connected to Judaism, but it can be intimidating to host one for the first time. Here are some tips to ease your anxiety and help you host your very first Seder from someone that’s been there:

  1. Remember there is no perfect Jew. As with my first Shabbat dinner, my biggest fear was that I was going to do something wrong and offend my other Jewish guests. But that happens to even the most seasoned hosts. Someone is going to mispronounce some Hebrew, miss a cue for a drink of wine, or forget to hide the Afikomen. It’s okay.

  2. Pick the right Haggadah. The Haggadah is the book that outlines the Seder service. There are plenty of traditional options, as well as more modern takes that cover relevant issues or lifestyles. While they will all follow a basic outline, make sure you study it and print copies for all of your guests.

  3. Plan for the strictest observance of Kosher for Passover rules in your guestlist. The basic Kosher for Passover rules are no wheat (except in matzah), oats, rye, barley, or spelt. In many traditions, rice, corn, legumes, and most seeds are also off the table. Regardless of what rules you keep, ask your guests what they follow so you can be inclusive.

  4. Organize your Seder plate. The basic elements you need are Karpas (a green vegetable eg: parsley), Haroset (a sweet fruit and nut mixture), Maror (a bitter herb, eg: horseradish), Hazeret (another bitter herb, eg: romaine lettuce), Zerora (a shank bone), Beitzah (egg). Vegetarians and vegans can substitute a roasted beet and a potato for Zerora and Beitzah.

  5. Ask a friend for help. The best part about converting to Judaism is the community that is willing and eager to help. Reach out to a member or your temple or just a Jewish friend. Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din is also able to provide a conversion mentor for both candidates and recent converts.

Passover is a beautiful and powerful time in the Jewish calendar. While it may seem stressful to host a Seder, it’s a huge step in your Jewish journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to be imperfect.

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