The night before we left Egypt, families sat together, eating matzah and bitter herbs, telling their wide-eyed children of the promise that G‑d made to their forefathers, and how it was all about to come true. And then, at midnight, the liberation began.

Today, we, their grandchildren, still gather over the same foods, telling the same stories and anticipating an even bigger liberation—when we will leave the darkness and confusion of exile behind, once and for all. We call it “the Seder.”

The Basics:

  • Arrange your Seder plate as illustrated in your haggadah, recite the kiddush and drink the first cup of kosher wine.
    Notes: a) You need to drink at least 1.5 ounces of each of the four cups of wine. b) Grape juice can work if you can’t stomach wine.
  • Wash your hands without saying a blessing, dip the vegetable (onion, potato or parsley) on the Seder plate in saltwater, and eat a bit of it. Then break the middle matzah in the Seder plate and put aside the larger piece for the afikoman.
  • Now it’s time to read the story of the Exodus. You can give people turns to read, or all read together. Feel free to add in your own stories and insights. This is followed by the second cup of wine.
  • Wash your hands again, this time with a blessing, and eat the matzah, minimum one ounce per adult. To relive the bitterness of slavery, munch down on the bitter herbs—at least 3/4 oz.—slightly dipped in the charoset (fruit paste). Then eat a matzah and bitter herbs sandwich.
  • Now comes the festive meal. Dessert? Another piece of matzah—the afikoman.
  • Say the Grace After Meals, followed by the third cup. Fill up Elijah’s cup with wine, and open the door to invite him in. Finally, the hallel (songs of praise) is followed by the fourth cup. The Seder ends with the fervent exclamation: “Next year in Jerusalem!”

For more details, see our Seder wizard.