Third Seder by the Forward

Yiddish day school students will sing the Four Questions at this year’s online Third Seder

Image by Josh Dolgin

Read this article in Yiddish

During the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic last year, when organizing events over Zoom was still a novelty, Rabbi Avram Mlotek and “Golden Land Concerts and Connections” president Moishe Rosenfeld put together a Third Seder online in an effort to bring together Yiddish aficionados unable to otherwise attend any seder at all.

As it turned out, more than 20,000 people watched it.

The Third Seder was a popular tradition in the afternoon Yiddish schools and Yiddishist organizations from the 1920s to the 1990s, especially in New York. The Workers Circle ran a massive Third Seder at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan for decades and many songs and readings from that program are still used at family Seders and by several Yiddishist organizations.

Besides more traditional elements like the Four Questions in Yiddish, Third Seders include songs and poems about seders conducted during the darkest moments in Jewish history: the Inquisition and the Holocaust. Among them are Abraham Reisin’s “Zog Maran” (Tell me, my Marrano brother) and Binem Heller’s “It’s the Month of Nissan in the Warsaw Ghetto.”

This year Mlotek and Rosenfeld are organizing a Third Seder on an even grander scale (The Third Seder: A Yiddish Passover Celebration | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. The program will be streamed the week before Passover on Sunday, March 21st at 2 p.m EST.

More than 35 singers and actors from the US, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Scotland, Germany, Australia and Israel will retell the events of the haggadah and sing Yiddish songs, using the secular haggadahs that were once used in the Yiddish schools.

Among the actors and singers taking part in the Third Seder are Steven Skybell, who played Tevye in the Folksbiene’s hit production of “Fiddler on the Roof”; punk-Klezmer musician and actor Daniel Kahn, cantor Yaakov Lemmer, and singer Sasha Lurie of the Yiddish psychedelic rock band “Forshpil.” Zalmen Mlotek, the Folksbiene’s artistic director, will serve as the program’s musical director.

A children’s choir from the Melbourne day school, Sholem Aleichem College, will sing the Four Questions. Sholem Aleichem College is the only Jewish day school outside of the Hasidic world where Yiddish is a major part of the curriculum.

More than 20 Yiddish organizations in the USA, Israel, Poland, Australia, Canada, Germany and Brazil are co-sponsoring the event.

The Third Seder is free. To receive a reminder about the program, register here.

Yiddish day school students will sing the Four Questions at this year’s online Third Seder

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Yiddish day school students will sing the Four Questions at this year’s online Third Seder

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