Years ago, my mother created this Haggadah for our family. It is a family treasure, and I am pleased to share it with Beliefnet's readers.

--Steve Waldman

Now in the presence of loved ones and friends,
before us the emblems of festive rejoicing,
we gather for our sacred celebration.
With the household of Israel, our elders and young ones,
linking and bonding the past with the future,
we heed once again the divine call to service.
Living our story that is told for all peoples,
whose shining conclusion is yet to unfold,
we gather to observe the Passover.
You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought you out of Egypt. You shall observe this day throughout the generations as a practice for all times. Remember the day on which you went forth from Egypt, from the house of bondage, and how the Lord freed you with a mighty hand.

To the Temple in Jerusalem, they carried sheep and goats, Pomegranates and dates.
We also are ripe and burdened, arms outstretched with gifts.
We carry our names, our histories, our memories and fears.

We have come to rest, to sing and to tell stories.
We have come to learn, to teach and to grow.
We bless this time with our presence.

Lighting the holiday candles
O hear my prayer, I sing to you.
Be gracious to the ones I love,
And bless them with goodness, mercy and peace,
O hear my prayer to You,
Let us light these lights,
And see the way to You,
and let us say: Amen.
Baruch Atah Adonay Eloheinu melech ha-olam
asher kidushanu b'mitzvo tav v'tsi vanu
l'hadlik ner shel (shabbat v'shel) yom tov.

Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe,
who has sanctified us by Your Commandments and commanded
us to kindle the holiday lights.

Reciting the Kiddush

The seder begins with the Kiddush, the blessing over a cup of wine. Wine stands for the sweetness and joy of a holiday celebration.

Baruch atah adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam
bo rai p'ree ha-gafen.

Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe,
who has created the fruit of the vine.

(Everyone sips from their wine glasses)

Baruch atah adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam
sh'heh-chi-ya-nu v'ki-ama-nu v'hi-gi-ya-nu laz'mahn ha-zeh.

Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has given us life, kept us safely and brought us to this holy season.

There is another prayer that rabbis say is the watchword of our faith, the belief in one God. Let us all recite the Sh'ma:

Sh'ma, yis-ro-el, ado-nai elo-hey-nu, ado-nai ech-ad
Bar-uch shem kivo mal-chu-tanu, l'olam vah-ed

Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Praised be thou, oh Lord our God, forever and ever.

Reader (topical)

We give thanks on this special day for all that we have in this country, ever mindful of those people who are not as fortunate. We are blessed to be able to celebrate Passover freely and without fear. We are grateful for the strength, good humor, and love that have seen us through the past year...for wonderful children and grandchildren.for generations of our extended family celebrating together...for good times and good friends...for good health and rapid recoveries...for birthdays and anniversaries.

We also remember those who join us at this seder in our memories, particularly those whose absence is still fresh and painful. The memorial light we have added to our seder table means that we remember them. We will always remember them. We also think about the events of 9/11, the many lives sacrificed there, and the many known and unknown acts of heroism. We light the memorial candle now, and hold a moment of silence for all these people. Our thoughts likewise are with the many American sons and daughters risking their lives in Iraq. We hope they will return home soon, their mission completed.

We pray for a kinder, gentler world and nation...for cool heads and compassionate hearts..for open minds..and for tolerance. May the year ahead bring joy, love, and fulfillment to us all. May we all live in peace.


We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who have kept alive the vision of freedom inherent in the Passover story. We proudly avow that we are the descendants of slaves-the first group of slaves in recorded history ever to wage a successful rebellion against their slaveholders. Ours was the first in a long line of struggles that other peoples have had to wage against their oppressors.


Passover is more than a story. It is a link between the past and the present. Let us now suspend the present and go back to the rituals of our ancestors and the telling of the Passover story.

The Passover Symbols


The seder table is different from our regular supper table. We have 3 matzohs covered with a special cloth, a bowl of salt water, an extra cup of wine, and a seder plate with special foods: a bone, an egg, bitter herbs, parsley, and charoset-chopped apples mixed with nuts and wine. Each of the symbolic foods that we have at our Seder represents some part of the Passover story.


Here we have greens, which we dip in salt water, to remember both the tears of sadness and the joy of rebirth in the spring.

Baruch at-ah ad-on-ai, eloheynu melech ha-olam, bor-ei p'ri ha'adamah.
You are blessed, oh God, spirit of the world, who creates the fruit of the earth.

(Each person takes greens and dips them in salt water.)


Now I break the middle matzah; I will conceal one half as the afikomen, which the children will search for later.

This is the bread of affliction, the poor bread,
which our ancestors ate when they were slaves in the land of Egypt.
Let all who are hungry come and eat.
Let all who are in want share the hope of Passover.
As we celebrate here,
we join with our people everywhere.
All who are in need, let them come and celebrate the Passover.

(The leader hides the afikomen.)


Matzah was meant to recall that the dough prepared by our people had no time to rise before they fled Egypt. We eat the matzah for seven days, so we may remember our departure from Egypt as long as we live. The bottom matzah is a reminder of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. The upper matzah symbolizes our thanks to God.

Baruch atah adonai, elo-hey-nu melech ha-olam
ha-motzi lechem min ha'aretz.

Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.

(The uppermost of the three matzohs is broken and distributed among the group.)