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It is also a tradition to invite guests to the seder. Many people will invite travelers, neighbors and friends, both Jewish and not Jewish. The idea at Passover is to be hospitable and inclusive, to the best of a household’s ability. One of the best known lines of the traditional Haggadah is, “Let all who are hungry, come and eat.” While it’s not so easy to just throw your front door open, call out those words, and then get ready for whomever might walk in the door, there are still lots of ways people can act on the spirit of these words. Some families focus on trying to invite one or two guests whom they know are unlikely to receive an invitation elsewhere.
One thing you can do to increase the likelihood of everyone enjoying your seder is to include in your invitation some key points of information about the seder you are planning to hold. These include:
- How long you envision the seder lasting. It’s perfectly OK to hold a short and sweet seder, or to hold an all-night-discuss-every-topic seder, but your guests will appreciate knowing what they’re getting into if they accept your invitation. For families with small kids, arriving at a seder only to discover that it’s going to be three hours before the meal is served and then highly intellectual discussions are going to carry on until 2 a.m. may turn the seder into, ironically, a form of bondage of its own, filled with antsy and bored kids and rumbling tummies.
- What kind of Haggadah you plan to use – is it strictly Orthodox, modern Reform, or a Haggadah with a special theme, like vegetarianism, LGBTQ equality, etc.? You can use Haggadot.com to explore the many customizable options or purchase one that resonates with your family.
- What level of keeping kosher for Passover you are observing. If you invite someone who maintains a very traditional form of observance, s/he will appreciate knowing beforehand if your seder is one at which they wouldn’t feel comfortable eating, even though they may deeply appreciate the intention behind the invitation. You may also want to indicate whether or not kosher-for-Passover wine and grape juice will be the only wine/juice served, or whether that restriction won’t be followed.
- What activities, if any, there will be for kids, both in the seder and away from the seder table.
- What kinds of help you need to pull all this off. It’s perfectly OK to ask for support to make the evening work for the kids and the adults, or ask some guests to cook and bring certain dishes to contribute to the meal.
- Whether you plan to go through the seder from first page to last, or whether you are planning to play it by ear and, if there’s a sense in the room that everyone’s kind of “sedered out,” that you might just call it a night. (This sometimes happens after everyone is finishing up eating the festive meal.)
The Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families is also available in PDF