A Passover - Seder Lesson
Compiled from various sources with some original material added by Neil MacQueen. This is a simplified version for Sunday School use. Modify as you see fit. I've done a Seder with my Sunday School and family groups several times, each time a bit different.
A Seder is a ritual reading and use of food to retell the Passover story, before, during, and after the festive Passover meal itself. The following is a Christianized version of the Seder for use with children.
Setting the Table:
You will need to provide the following to be used for both the meal and the ritual liturgy.
- An Egg lightly roasted (hardboiled)
Meat, preferably lamb, but roast beef can be substituted.
- Charoset ('ha-ro-set' --easily made of grated apple, graham crackers and cinnamon.)
- Chazeret (A vegetable such as lettuce.)
- Karpas... lettuce leaves to be dipped in the salt water during one of the four questions.
- Maror... the bitter herb - parsley dipped in vinegar or horseradish.
- A bowl of salt water should be placed on the table, and a bowl of horseradish.
- Cups of water and towels will be needed for the hand washing ceremony.
- Pita bread (goes good with the meal and is more palatable than matzah for children)
- Matzah bread ....the unleavened bread that’s like a cracker. Look for it in the ethnic foods section of your grocery.
- Grapes ...to round out the meal
- Grape Juice ...instead of wine. You’ll need enough for each participant to have two glasses. Use goblets.
Set an empty spot at the head of the table for Elijah the greatest prophet. He is the hoped-for visitor at every Passover, the herald of the coming Kingdom of God.
The Seder Plate:
The Passover Meal in the middle of our Seder consisted of a kid-friendly menu of chicken or roast beef, hardboiled eggs, fruit salad, grape juice, grapes, and lots of pita bread.
In addition to the above items, prepare one special centerpiece plate, “the Seder plate” with the following items. Each has a significance in the Passover meal which can be explained during the meal.
- Z'roah. Roasted shankbone of lamb or chicken neck. Symbolizes the paschal sacrifice at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem on the afternoon before Passover.
- Baytzah. Hard-boiled egg. Represents the festival sacrifice brought at the Holy Temple.
- Morror. Bitter herbs cut into small pieces. Or grated, fresh horseradish. Demonstrates the suffering of the Jews in Egypt.
- Charoset. A mixture of finely chopped apples, cinnamon and graham crackers to suit children’s tastes. Resembles mortar used by Israelites to make bricks while enslaved in Egypt.
- Karpas. Either parsley, celery, lettuce or potatoes may be used.
- Chazeres. Romaine lettuce (or fresh horseradish), used as morror in the "sandwich" later on in the Seder.
A Seder - Passover - Last Supper - Communion Meal
The evening begins with everyone putting on costumes and then helping set all the tables. Setting the tables begins the process of focusing on the special-ness of the night.
After the table is set, everyone gathered for the opening.
1. The ‘Kiddush’––the FIRST cup of Blessing
LEADER: We begin with a blessing....the ‘Kiddush’––the FIRST cup of Blessing
Please repeat after me:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvo-tav, v'tzivanu
al n'tee-las yadayim.
LEADER: Which means We praise you, Adonai, majestic sovereign of all life, Who hallows our lives with commandments and bids us wash our hands.
All hold their cups in the right hand. Everyone then drinks the majority of their FIRST CUP while leaning to their left. Everyone then washes their hands. Water is poured from a cup, twice on the right hand and twice on the left. A bowl is underneath to catch the water, and the oldest at the table dries each person’s hands.
2. MOTZI, A Blessing for Bread
LEADER: We are now coming to the Seder meal. We begin with the breaking and blessing of matzah bread. First is the regular blessing for bread, then a special one for matzah for bread is a symbol of our need for both earthly and spiritual nourishment.
Repeat after me:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.
LEADER: which means We praise You, Lord, Sovereign of Life, Who brings forth bread from the earth.
The leader breaks the Matzah and passes it around. Each takes a portion and passes it to the next. As it is being passed, there is an exchange of words and then a bit of bread is eaten.
The Passer says “May God nourish our lives.”
The Receiver says “Baruch Atah Adonai.”
3. MATZAH, A Special Blessing for Matzah
Leader: And now the special blessing. Repeat after me:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvo-tav v'tzivanu al a-chilat matzah.
Leader: Which means: We praise You, Lord, Sovereign of Life, Who hallows our lives through commandments, and commands us to eat matzah.
Pass more matzah and eat your portion of the matzah.
4. The Four Questions
The four youngest children present now ask "the four questions." As the leader reads the answer, everyone takes the seder elements being referred to and acts out the answers. For example: As the readers mention bread, bitter herbs, etc., everyone eats or dips as the words are said. *You may have other participants read the answers.
Child: Why do we eat only matzoh on Pesach ?
Answer: On all other nights we eat all kinds of breads and crackers. Matzoh reminds us that when the Jews left the slavery of Egypt they had no time to bake their bread. They took the raw dough on their journey and baked it in the hot desert sun into hard crackers called matzoh. And so we eat the Matzoh to remember their journey.
Child: Why do we eat bitter herbs, maror, at our Seder?
Answer: On all other nights we eat many kinds of vegetables and herbs. But tonight we dip the Maror in the bitter _____ to remind us of the bitter and cruel way the Pharaoh treated the Jewish people when they were slaves in Egypt. (Eat the Maror (lettuce) dipped in bitterness)
Child: Why do we dip our foods twice tonight?
Answer: On all other nights we don't usually dip one food into another At our Seder we dip the parsley in saltwater and the bitter herbs in Charoset . We dip bitter herbs into Charoset to remind us how hard the Jewish slaves worked in Egypt. The Charoset look like the mud used to make the bricks used in building the Pharaoh's buildings. And we dip parsley into saltwater. The parsley reminds us that spring is here and new life will grow. The saltwater reminds us of the tears of the Jewish slaves.
Child: Why do we lean on a pillow tonight?
Answer: On all other nights we eat sitting up straight. We lean on a pillow to be comfortable and to remind us that once we were slaves with no comforts, but now by the Grace of God we are free.
5. The SECOND CUP of Blessing
Leader: The Lord saw the suffering of his people, and came down to Egypt to save them. He brought them out of bondage and into freedom. Let’s us drink to freedom. (and the people respond by saying “to freedom")
================== The meal is now eaten.=================
Near the end of the meal... The afikomen, a piece of matzah broken from the seder plate, has been hidden somewhere in the house/church. The one who finds it often receives a Passover prize. For their last bite of the Passover meal, everyone eats a piece of the afikomen.
6. The THIRD CUP of Blessing
Leader: The Lord called his people together and gave them Ten Rules to live by. The Lord was their savior and teacher. Let us raise our glasses as a prayer that the Lord may continue to save and teach us with his word.
7. The FOURTH AND FINAL CUP
Leader: Tonight we have eaten as our ancestors once did. And we have the same hope. God send us your prophets so we won’t swerve from your word. God send us the greatest prophet, Elijah, to bolster our faith and usher in your Kingdom.
Then....someone from the seder table, usually the youngest child, opens the door of the house.
Then... Hallel is sung or recited. The Doxology will do.
Leader: “May The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
NOW DRINK THE FOURTH AND LAST CUP
Leader: It is a fond hope of every Jew to someday celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. And so we end our Seder by repeating the words "Next Year in Jerusalem"
All: sing "Shalom Haverim" in both Hebrew and English.
8. The Last Supper:
The leader now assigns roles and begins to describe Jesus’ final Seder meal. You can embellish this as little or as much as you need.
LEADER: Jesus’ last meal was a Seder meal similar to our own tonight. Sometime during that meal he told his Disciples this:
Jesus: Someone will betray me...
All Disciples gathered at the meal say in turn: “Is it I Lord? Not Me, Jesus.” “Who is it?”
Jesus: ...the person who dips their hands into the bowl with me. He is my betrayer.
Go and do what you must do.
Judas gets up and leaves.
The Disciples begin to argue about who is the best disciple. Jesus rises and washes Peter's feet, announcing that the greatest disciple is the one who serves others.
Jesus: (taking the bread he announces) This bread is my body broken for you......As God fed us during our escape from Egypt, so tonight, my life and words are bread to your soul. “ Whenever you break bread together, do it in remembrance of me.
All take a piece of bread and eat it.
Jesus: “This Elijah's cup reminds us that the Kingdom of God is coming -a new Covenant between God and his people which will now be sealed (confirmed) by my blood at my death.' Whenever you drink from this cup, remember me and get ready for the coming of my Kingdom.”
All drink from their cup.
Leader: Our Communion celebrated in worship on Sunday is a shortened form of the Passover Seder Jesus celebrated as his last supper with his disciples. Over the centuries, the Christian church took all these foods and condensed the meal down to two elements, the bread and cup.
Jesus gave new meaning to the bread and cup. They are no longer just reminders of what God did to save the Hebrews in Egypt, but also what God did for the entire world in Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus wants us to think of him when we break the bread, and eat with one another. His body was broken on the cross for us, his spirit nourishes us. And this cup is no longer Elijah’s cup, but Christ’s cup. Its red juice symbolizes not only his blood shed for our sins, but the sweet joy that is ours when we love and serve the Lord.
Written by Neil MacQueen