Jewish diversity at the Seder

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

There are so many possible new additions to our Passover Seder, from readings to things we put on the table. The hope with these additions is that they will raise questions and in discovering answers (or creating them) we learn more about the messages of Passover. The list includes everything from the orange (which has been a custom for a while) to a potato or a banana or cashews or even a pinecone. How about asking everyone who is coming to your Seder to bring an item that they can explain? Check out more explanations online.

As you will have many wine cups on your table, here is another one to add: Ruth’s Cup Honoring Jewish Diversity. Ruth was our first convert with her declaration: “Wherever you go, I will go; whever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your G-d my G-d (Ruth 1:16).” Here is the reading from Be’Chol Lashon (

Leader: At Passover we fill a cup with wine for Elijah and open the door to welcome him to our Seder. Elijah symbolizes our hope for the Messianic age, when the world will be perfected and all people will live in harmony and peace.

We also fill a cup of wine for Ruth, the first Jew by choice and great-grandmother of King David. We open the door to signify our welcome of Ruth and all who follow in her footsteps — those who become part of our people, part of our diversity.

All rise, face the open door and read together: We declare that we do not have to wait for the Messianic age to make sure that every Jew feels fully comfortable and integrated into our people, no matter what their skin, hair or eye color is; no matter what their name sounds like; no matter how they became Jewish — through birth or through conversion, as a child or as an adult.

Close the door and be seated. Add this discussion: Share a time when you felt like an outsider but were actively welcomed into a new community or space. How did that happen? How did it make you feel?

Welcoming all to our Seder and our community gives us the freedom that the Passover story tells us. All must be free and all welcome!

Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.

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