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Passover: How to Have a Simple and Satisfying Celebration

Passover is a festival of liberation, but planning and hosting a seder can be stressful. If you'd like to explore ways to celebrate that will be simpler and meaningful, here are some options.

OPTION #1: Come to us! These events are popular, so register soon.


If you have young children:

  • Passover Celebration for Young Children, Sunday, April 14, 10:30am-noon. Especially for children 2-7. Older and younger siblings are also welcome. Join Rabbi Bridget Wynne and musician Joel Siegel for the Passover story, music, movement, a holiday craft, Passover treats, and more. Get info and register here

  • First Night Seder for Families with Young Children, Friday, April 19, 5:00-6:15 pm. Offered by the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay and led by Rabbi Bridget Wynne and musician Eric Schoen. Get info and register here.

For adults and older children:

  • First Night Community Seder for All, Friday, April 19, 7:30-9:30pm. Offered by the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay and led by Rabbi Bridget and musician Eric Schoen. Get info and register here.

OPTION #2: Create a simpler version of the traditional seder that is still meaningful. The core of the holiday is not necessarily to have a dinner party, but to tell the Passover story in an interesting way, and to do things differently than we usually do. This is meant to get our attention, so we ask questions that help us connect this story of liberation to our lives today. Here are some possibilities.

  • Have an easy meal that is still special for Passover. How about matzah pizza and no-bake chocolate matzah cake? Or, in breakkfast-for-dinner style, enjoy matzah brie, a traditional Passover dish made of eggs and matzah. There are many versions; here's one. If children are part of your celebration they can help with any of these simple recipes.

  • Have a seder with snacks! Gather when it's not meal time, and enjoy grape juice or wine plus simple snacks.

  • Simplify the ritual and focus on the story of Moses and the Israelites leaving slavery in Egypt. Here's a version of the story for young children. In this haggadah, which is excellent, free, and downloadable, you can find a version of the story for older children and adults on pages 30-32. You can learn more about this haggadah here. Invite discussion about how the story reminds us of experiences in our own lives or of current events. You might also pick just one or two favorite rituals or songs to include.


  • Focus on just a few of the traditional rituals. Those you might choose from include: dipping a green vegetable in salt water to symbolize the tears of the slaves and the salty sea they crossed; asking the four questions about what makes this night different; calling out the names of the ten plagues; or having a cup for Elijah. Or you might look at and discuss the symbolism of the foods on the seder plate; or hide the afikoman. Here is a brief outline of the seder rituals. You can learn more about any of them in the free, downloadable haggadah described here

  • Try a truly "symbolic" seder plate. If you don't have all the ritual foods, you can still use them to help tell the Passover story. Just click on the seder plate below, download, print, and cut out the "plate"!


woman holds matza.jpg

OPTION #3: Use a simple yet meaningful haggadah.

  • The 30Minute-Seder Haggadah may sound silly, but it's a perfectly good haggadah. It includes all the basics, presented clearly and understandably, yet not "dumbed down." You can read the entire booklet online before ordering, and if you're in a hurry can even order a downloadable version.

  • The Family Haggadah II is appropriate for adults and also for older children. It includes all the basics plus interesting commentaries, explanations, and additional readings. It's an easy-to-use, well written haggadah if you want one that will work for a variety of groups and situations and is inexpensive. 


  • Ask questions! Passover is designed to pique our curiosity and encourage us to explore its meaning. The most involving questions are usually those that ask about experiences and opinions, and help connect the Passover story to our lives. ​Click here for some ideas.​​

  • Connect Passover to what's happening right now. Include the stories of today's refugees who, like our ancestors, fled violence and persecution.

  • Invite others to celebrate with you. Passover is more lively when you share it with people with different experiences and points of view. It's also a holiday about welcoming strangers, for we, the Jewish people, were strangers in Egypt and know the feelings of a stranger. Who do you know who might be glad to be asked to join you?

    Remember, you can invite others and still keep it simple! Ask them to come to one of the Jewish Gateways Passover celebrations with you, to join you for one of the simple options described here, or think up your own -- how about a Passover picnic in a park? Click on the invitation below, download, print, fill it in, and welcome others to join you in celebrating.

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