Alternative Seder Traditions


Most of us are familiar with the myriad of rituals associated with the seder such as dipping a green herb like parsley in salt water, asking the 4 questions and the opening of the door for Elijah. Did you know that Jews who came from Eastern Europe may have different seder traditions than Jews who came from Arab Countries.  As well, many of us look to make a connection between the oppression and subsequent freedom of the Israelites and many of the more modern issues that exist in our today’s society. This year is a great year to change up your seder and include some of the traditions below:


Spilt Wine

Rabbi Akiva Eiger had a tradition of bumping the table and spilling a glass of wine at the start of the seder so that the tablecloth was already stained.  This way, guests didn’t have to to be worried about accidental spills.  While we may not be hosting guests this year, we are hosting our young children and what better way to make them feel comfortable than for the adults to spill (and not cry about it) before the kids do.


Onion Free for All

It is traditional for Jews from Afghanistan to distribute green onions during Dayenu and hit each other with the green onions. 


Passing of the Seder Plate/Matza

At the beginning of Maggid (the telling of the story) Moroccan Jews pass the matzah  over everyone heads.  Other Sephardi Jews pass the entire seder plate over everyone’s heads. 


Miriam’s Cup

Many families have added a Miriam’s Cup to their table.  This is to add a female balance to Elijah’s cup.  Miriam’s Cup is filled with water and serves as a symbol of Miriam’s well that followed the Israelites in the desert. To learn more about adding a Miriam’s Cup to your seder click here.


8 Modern Additions to the Seder Plate

Click the link above to lean about 8 different additions to the seder plate.  Not only is this a great way to incorporate modern themes, it is a great way to get your kids to ask questions about why this year are you including an acorn or an orange or a banana. 


7 Seder Traditions From Around the World 

Click the link above to read about more other international seder traditions


And for the Finale, Add a Rainbow to your Seder Table  

This year in Israel, many Israelis are adding a picture or drawing or even 3-D model of a rainbow to their seder table.  Just as God sent a rainbow to Noah after the flood, a reminder that everything will be alright, the rainbow can be used by as a a reminder that this too will pass, and everything will be alright.