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Women’s Seder

Over the past decade, the women’s seder has become immensely popular, offering women the opportunity to infuse the Passover narrative with a woman’s voice and experience. In your celebration of this special program, you can use existing haggadot or create your own. Many Women’s League Sisterhoods and regions have already produced such events and would be happy to share their insights and experiences with you.

Description/Procedure

The women’s seder, which is an entirely new ritual developed by Jewish feminists, has no set formula. The event can consist of a full meal or a variation such as the symbolic seder foods plus dessert. The ritual itself follows the format of the regular Passover seder, with discussions and food as part of the celebration. It can be further enhanced with singing and dancing.

Time Frame

Schedule sufficient time to plan the seder. You must begin months in advance to choose texts, format, venue, and food, as well as to create excitement and get out publicity.

Personnel

Organize by committees:

  • Food
  • Decorations
  • Preparing or ordering haggadot
  • Publicity
  • Reservations and seating
  • The seder itself (leaders, readers, etc.)
  • Budget

Determine the costs of the food that will be served, decorations, haggadot, additional expenses (musicians, belly-dancers). Set the fee to cover the costs, with an additional margin for unexpected costs. You might want to add a little more to the final cost as a fundraiser.

Materials/Resources

There are many women’s haggadot in print, which you can find at Amazon or Barnes and Noble books. The first, and some think still the best, is The Journey Continues: The Ma’ayan Passover Haggadah (Tamara Cohen, editor).

If you want to create your own text, the best sources can be found in The Women’s Seder Sourcebook: Rituals and Readings for Use at the Passover Seder and The Women’s Passover Companion: Women’s Reflections on the Festival of Freedom (Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Tara Mohr & Catherine Spector, Jewish Lights)

Suggested website for books, resources, gifts, etc. about Jewish feminist issues:

  • www.ritualwell.org (created by KOLOT, Center for Jewish Women and Gender Studies offering a wide variety of ritual activities for holidays, rites of passage, feminist projects, meetings, etc.)

Comments

This program is well worth the time, effort and expenditure. The women’s seder has attained universal acclaim because of its unique opportunity to imbue Passover celebrations with greater personal and spiritual value.