Dear 

As we prepare for Passover, a few practical thoughts for your Seder.  None require additional prep - just some ideas you can think about and try at your Seder tonight or tomorrow night.
  1. A Night of Questions:  Why only four?
The Four Questions ask - why is this night different from other nights? Our favorite answer comes from the Shulchan Aruch, the 16th century Code of Jewish Law.  Why is Seder night so different?  To provoke us to ask questions!

The Seder can make space for all of us to ask questions, and not only the familiar four. We don't need to have the answers - the questions are often what's interesting.

Tip #1 - At the outset of the Seder - invite anyone to ask a question at any time.  And don't be afraid to diverge from the Haggadah to discuss an interesting question. Because...
  1. Think of the Haggadah as a guide, not a script.
The Haggadah documents an order to the Seder.  Before Gutenberg invented the printing press, folks would do their best to adhere to that order but they'd otherwise wing it.  So everyone's Seder was different, highlighting or lingering on those elements most meaningful or most fun for that family.

Tip #2 - On this festival of freedom - don't be a slave to the Haggadah .  Follow the order of the Seder but don't feel the need to read every paragraph.   Make room for detours .
  1. Tell your own stories.
Maggid (the telling) is the section of the Haggadah in which we recount the story of the Exodus - our people's foundational story. It's the longest section and we tell it over and over again.  Consider truncating the Maggid story and invite guests to tell THEIR foundational stories (to share with everyone or in a small group) .  What has been their (and your) personal Egypt and Exodus?

Tip #3 - Tell personal stories that share who we are and where we came from.
 
  1. Use the Afikomen to help repair the world.
Early in the Seder, we break the middle matzah - an act that can symbolize the brokenness of our world.  We hide one piece (the afikomen). After dinner, the afikomen is recovered and that brokenness is repaired. Typically, it's redeemed through bribes of money, candy, or toys for the children.
It's fun. But, for Seders of adults (and for teens and even older children), consider...

Tip #4
- Redeem the afikomen with a pledge to a cause
.  Instead of "ransoming" the afikomen for a prize, the holder of the afikomen can choose a designated non-profit and describe why it merits support.  The host (and others) can make a pledge to support that tzedakah . This shift could become a more meaningful tradition, consistent with the redemptive symbolism of the Seder and the afikomen itself.
What is common about these suggestions? You are in charge.
Make the Seder your own, make it meaningful, make it fun!  
For more Passover ideas, click the icons below to download Passover @Home, a guide for families and Passover @Shul, printable activity pages to keep little hands engaged during the Seder.
http://files.constantcontact.com/87cc29d5001/22ed4deb-3539-457e-b0b6-cca99d6a3866.png http://files.constantcontact.com/87cc29d5001/3766288d-f177-422e-943c-ea529eb15197.png

Hag Pesach Sameach!
From all of us at Jewish LearningWorks
Jewish LearningWorks | 601 14th Ave | San Francisco, CA 94118