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The Very Forward Guide To Hosting A Passover Seder

The countdown to Passover is coming hard and fast — and we’ve done the legwork for you, with our ‘very Forward’ round-up of what to cook, drink and say this Passover. Whether you’re a host or a (potluck) guest, we’ve got your back.

Here’s what to cook.

Sick of the same matzo ball soup, year after year? So are we. Here are some alternatives (in addition to eight different matzo ball soup variations, if you’re married to the idea of kneydlach at your table):

Some of our food editor’s picks include Joan Nathan’s long-cooked hard-boiled eggs with spinach, a creative twist on ‘Karpas’ with this spring-inspired ‘karpas salad’, or try Adeena Sussman’s Passover twist on crostini (think: avocado toast meets matzo) for an easy and delicious hors d’oeuvres.

If you’re lucky enough to be a kitniyot eater (that’s rice and legumes, traditionally permitted on Passover for Sephardic and non-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews), we’ve got some amazing Passover-approved recipes for you to try, including tzimmes with tahini pesto and pomegranate, paella-inspired cholent, and Bukharian pilaf with kidney beans and carrots.

And of course, don’t forget quinoa, which will save millions of Ashkenazi Jews from starvation this week. My personal favorites: Jamie Geller’s green quinoa bowl and Paula Shoyer’s crunchy quinoa with sweet potatoes.

Looking for a new cuisine to try this Passover? How about Turkish kalli’ah, the Georgian beef stew (salyanka) — or the Roman classic Passover cookie, the pizzarelle con miele? And if you’re an old-fashioned soul, here are Joan Nathan’s tips for making a gorgeous gefilte fish (yes, such a thing exists).

For dessert, skip the store-bought cakes that taste like cardboard and try this show-stopping chocolate matzo masterpieces, or make your own coconut chocolate chip macaroons. And make sure that chocolate is fairly traded — it’s the holiday of redemption, after all.

Here’s what to drink.

Not sure which schnapps to buy? We’ve got you covered.

Our Deputy Opinion editor Laura E. Adkins has compiled the definitive guide to Passover wine and liquor here. And if you’re one for tequila — rejoice, because Patron tequila just went kosher for Passover, so be sure to check that out.

Want to go beyond four cups? We hear you. Our Schmooze writer Jenny Singer wrote the definitive Passover drinking game; we highly recommend it.

And here’s what to say.

The kitchen is sparkling, the Passover china is out of its boxes, the table is set — but the work is far from over, because you’re hosting the Seder, which is a whole performance in its own.

Some notes to keep in mind:

Don’t forget the kids. The Passover Seder is geared towards children — so if you’re having kids at your table, keep their interest priority #1. Our Scribe contributor Evelyn Taubman suggests some innovative ways to keep kids engaged throughout the evening.

Ensure that all voices around your table are heard. As Shari Motro and Mike Moskwowitz write, “As every teacher knows, in group settings, some people will not participate unless they are explicitly invited. The silent are often women, minorities, or simply introverts. Sometimes silence is a choice, and that should be respected. But all too often, group dynamics unintentionally replicate existing hierarchies, intensifying instead of healing the pain of those who feel like strangers. It’s time to reclaim the Seder as the creatively inclusive practice it has the potential to be.” Check out their tips for how to lead a Seder that is truly inclusive of all its participants.

Enhance your Seder with some contemporary literature, compiled by Jess Burnquist, a high school English teacher and writer in Phoneix, Arizona — from Yehuda Amichai to Langston Hughes, from Julia Alvarez to Isaac Bashevis Singer — just print out this article for all of your Seder guests for a robust discussion that will beautifully fuse ancient and modern texts.

Having a diverse crowd? There are some easy ways to introduce your non-Jewish friends to the Passover Seder experience without overwhelming them. Event planner Randi Selnick shared her tips here. Do your guests a favor and send them a link to this cheat-sheet for non-Jewish guests, so they come prepared (they should know about heavy drinking and sinus-clearing snacks in advance).

JOFA’s Sharon Weiss-Greenberg shared with us her personal list of feminist objectives this Passover: “When it comes to the many goals of feminists, consider taking some time during the Seder to tell stories of what we want our communities to look like. While remembrance is the focal point of the seder, we are also meant to think about the future.”

Looking for something lighter? Check out Dave Cowen’s Trump Passover Haggadah — and for a broader list of suggested Haggadahs, Jay Michaelson has done the research for you already. And if you want some great literature for the long holiday afternoons — be sure to check out Talya Zax’s line-up of excellent titles out this spring.

This Passover, remember the millions of refugees escaping oppression by setting up a second Seder plate, with coordinated flashcards — courtesy of Jewish World Watch.

Missing some props? Forget Amazon and sign up for the Jewish subscription box ‘JoyBox’ — they’ll send you a gorgeous afikoman cover among other things, but hurry, so that it gets to you in time for the holiday.

Have some thoughts about our Passover content? We’d love to hear your feedback — write to us at [email protected].

Wishing you a meaningful — and delicious — Passover holiday.

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