Preparing for the Passover Seder in 10 Easy Steps
On the first night of Passover a very special ceremony with an accompanying meal is held called the Passover Seder. “Seder” means “order” called as such because there is a specific sequence in which the Seder must be preformed and particular items which must be used.
Here is a quick list of the essential pieces you will need to set-up your own Seder.
1. Kosher for Passover dishes, flatware, glasses and wine glasses. Some families use an entirely different set of tableware for the Passover Seder. Many just use their best dishes while there are families which use high-end disposable tableware for the Seder. Nevertheless, the table should be set and look lovely.
2. The Seder Plate. The quintessential part of the Seder table is the Seder Plate. The Seder Plate is a special six compartment plate which holds the symbolic foods used during the Passover Seder. The Seder Plate is placed at the head of the table in a place of honor.
3. The Matzah Plate. The Seder requires the special unleavened bread called Matzah. A stack of Matzah should be placed on the table in a square Matzah Plate and placed where everyone can take from the plate.
4. Three Matzot and Matzah Cover. In addition to the stack of Matzah, the Seder requires three special sheets of Matzah that are used to symbolize the three groups of ancient Hebrew society: Cohen, Levite, and Israelite. The Matzah Cover has three compartments in which to place these three sheets of Matzah.
5. Kosher Wine. During the Seder four cups of wine are used. Each cup represents the four expressions of redemption God made to the ancient Hebrews as explained in Exodus 6:6-7. The first cup, "I will take you out…"; the second cup "I will save you…"; the third cup, "I will redeem you…" and the fourth cup, "I will make you a nation…" The Kiddush Cup is filled four times and passed around the table for everyone to drink from for each of these redemptions.
6. Kiddush Cup. The Kiddush Cup is necessary to hold the wine during each of the four Blessings over the wine. The Kiddush Cup is a goblet usually with an appropriate motif such as Jerusalem or the grapevine.
7. Elijah's Cup. The Elijah Cup is filled with wine for the Prophet Elijah and not touched throughout the meal. It is for what many call the 5th expression of redemption found in Exodus 6:8, “And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.I will give it to you as a possession.” It is similar to a Kiddush Cup, but larger.
8. The Haggadah. The Haggadah is a special book referring to the specific organization of Seder. It tells the Exodus story, explains when to eat and drink, and how make the Blessings throughout the meal. Some families have only one, but most try to have one for each person at the table or for two to share.
9. Hand Washing Pitcher. Two times during the Seder occurs a spiritual cleansing by pouring water over the hands for sanctification and purification. There is a special pitcher that can be used for the hand-washing ritual.
10. Small dishes for salt water dipping. Karpas, one of the foods on the Seder Plate, is dipped in salt water during the Seder to symbolize the tears of the ancient Hebrews when they were slaves in Egypt.