Passover Pages of Sinai Temple
Preparing for the 2016 Seder

Interesting Ideas...New Ideas...Fun Ideas...

For the kid in you and for the adults too!

"Turn it, turn it, for everything can be found in the Haggadah!" Adapted from Pirke Avot

In the text just above, I've paraphrased the Mishnah's notion that the Torah can be read and reread many times because ultimately everything we need to know about living a good life can be found in the Torah. I've changed the original quote and claimed instead that everything can be found in the Haggadah. Maybe it's an overstatement, but I'd like to think that if you and I reach deep and think deeply, we can remake the Haggadah every year.

The Haggadah and our Seders can become more than fun meals. Passover can become something moving, spiritual, and memorable.


So what's new for 2016?

How can we "remake" the Seder this year?

What might be Seder themes for 2016?


Two themes come to mind. Each is almost too big for a Seder. But I can't quite imagine recalling our slavery in Egypt without mentioning two huge challenges confronting us all today. We can't quite be authentic in singing Dayenu without at least mentioning the...
Global Refugee Crisis and
Climate Change.

To that end, you'll see some suggested readings on our website dealing with these topics. Follow the links at the left of our Passover page and you'll find material relating to these momentous issues.


And once you've done that...perhaps some of these links and the readings that follow will also be of interest.

Passover needs to be serious, but not too serious.

Jews always need to remember to smile.

So...away we go with Passover extras and supplements.


Passover- A Reform Jewish Perspective

Passover - A Season for Justice

Passover - How do we share this story with children?

Passover Seder for Young Children

25 Vegetarian Recipes for Your Seder

Matza Toppings from Around the World - Six Ways


Sinai Lending Library of Haggadahs

We've got over 100 copies of the Reform movement's modern Passover Haggadah waiting for YOU to borrow and use.

PLUS we have a family Haggadah and copies of two other new Haggadahs. Please use them. Borrow 5, 10, 15 or as many as you need for your Seder. Visit the Temple office Monday to Friday.


Are you musically challenged?

Not to worry. Just photocopy this simple round and sing it to the tune of Frere Jacques.

Eat the matza, eat the matza.

Sip the wine, sip the wine.

Hide the afikomen, hide the afikomen.

Drink the wine, drink the wine.

Better still...Follow this link to our Sinai Website where the Cantor presents much much music for you.


And while you are at it....

For more and more specific ideas for your Seder...

Visit our website. Check out the opening letters from me for 2015 and 2014. Still good stuff there.

Hope to see you on the first morning of Passover for our congregational service – Saturday, April 23 at 10:30 a.m.

A light lunch follows the service.



The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.

The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”1 In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.

There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, about whom the following midrash is taught:

[When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she prophesied... “my mother is destined to bear a son who will save Israel.” When [Moses] was born the whole house... filled with light[.] [Miriam’s] father arose and kissed her on the head, saying, “My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.” But when they threw [Moses] into the river her father tapped her on the head saying, “Daughter, where is your prophecy?” So it is written, “And [Miriam] stood afar off to know what would be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”2 Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile. The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing:

When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “Our mistress, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”3 But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day. Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.

While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

1 Genesis 1:2 2 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 14a 3 Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12b

My Father's Ritual Danny Siegel

(This essay was first published around 1980 when conversations about mental illness, congenital challenges, and so much more were far less sensitive. Nonetheless, I think the author here suggests a compassionate way to approach the Seder. By the way, the author assumes that readers know his dad was a physician.) Passover in my father’s household has always been a celebration of freedom and equality. Two nights a year twenty to thirty people would sit around our table and join my father in the recitation of the tale of the Jews leaving their bondage in the Land of Egypt.

From the first Seder-nights I can recall, our guests were our closest friends, plus soldiers (there was World War II, and Korea, and they were far away from home), and students at universities in the area who could not afford to go back to Missouri or Illinois or California for the holiday...And a special element, as if Chagall or Dali or Kafka designed the scenery and script: a month before the onset of Passover, my mother would call local institutions where children with various physical or mental challenges often found themselves living. She would ask to come down to acquaint herself with six or seven of the children, to talk with them, to bring them things, and to tell them Passover was coming. And then, the afternoon before the first Seder, my brother and sister and I would set the tables as my parents took both cars to the institutions to being the children back in preparation for the evening in our home. Besides the regular guests, there were always some new faces—a rotation of doctors, a new patient of my father’s who had not seen a Seder in years, perhaps the parents of a child my father had delivered in their home years before. My grandfather was there, of course, and my grandmother, until she died while I was still a teenager, an aunt and some cousins, a friend or two of mine, and the six or seven children.

You will say their noises disturbed the recitations. That is true.

You will say my mother was burdened enough cleaning house and cooking the week through for fifty or sixty people. That is true.

You will say the children needed to be watched every minute: they would spill things, they would throw up, they might start to shout, and that, too, is true.

But next to each member of my family and in between other couples was one of these children, and each of us was charged with caring for the child, watching over all of them and treating them as best as Moses might have treated them among the masses being taken from Pharaoh’s slavery—for we must assume that there were palsied and polioed children three or four thousand years ago, too. Each of us was to bring the message, however dimly perceived, to these children.

And when it came time to eat the meal itself, my father would rise in his white robe, having tasted of the food as prescribed by Jewish law, and would go from seat to seat, cutting the chicken or brisket and spoon-feeding whoever needed to be fed in such fashion, and joking with each.

The meals would last long into the night. The mishaps were many, and the fulfillment of the dictum “He who is hungry shall come in to eat” went slowly, for each had his own needs to be fed with the utmost care.

In our household on Passover nights, everyone felt at home, everyone was comfortable. No one winced, no one sat in silence while my father’s personal ritual was performed, no one ignored or paid extra attention to what was taking place. Our guests-of-many-years knew what was to happen, and the newcomers soon learned, then leaned back against their pillows (as free people must have pillows on Passover night), and partook of the wonders of freedom.

The following afternoon each disease was explained to me. The names were impressive in their Latin and Greek configurations, but the symptoms and the sufferings were hard to accept. Nevertheless, at our table these children were an integral part of our People, of our Greater Family, no more or less normal for the chromosomal defects and their birth- traumas or the disorders of their nervous systems than the rest of around the table.

Those nights, the feeding done, the thanks recited, the singing would begin. It was a dissonant chorus resembling in my early imagination a choir of Heavenly Hosts, but with flesh and blood instead of halos, twisted words and sounds of human beings in place of perfect harmonies of angels who need neither food or drink, nor the affection of my father.

That is why it is better to be a human being than an angel.