About the Seder

This seder commemorates the events of the Holocaust, as the Passover Seder commemorates the Exodus. This seder aims to recognize that once again evil people tried to kill us, but they failed. We are still here, and we celebrate our survival, even as we honor our lost and remember the terrible things that happened to us.

We start by singing Gesher, to prepare ourselves for the difficult journey ahead, across the narrow bridge between destruction and survival. We continue with candle-lighting and Kiddush. We use mismatched candlesticks to remind us of how our ancestors made do with what they had in the dark times.

Our journey begins before the war, where we get to know our subjects. We then walk through the steps into darkness. We start with the change in the political climate in Germany and around the world, where Jews wanted to flee the persecution but found no place open to them. We move on to the ghettos and then to the camps and killing pits, at each step acknowledging and memorializing the terrible things that happened. We pause to remember the lost communities and the cultures that can never be recovered.

We do not end in the darkness, however. Having come to the darkest place, we begin to walk back toward the light. We recognize that even in the midst of the darkness, some light still shone. We acknowledge first the inner strength of those who, in the midst of chaos and terror, fought to hold onto their faith, their culture, and all that they found precious in life. We then recognize the strength and aid given to us by so many, at the risk, and sometimes cost, of their own lives. Finally, we come to liberation and freedom.

After liberation, we take time to recognize what was lost and the effort of rebuilding life. We say Kaddish for the dead and Shehecheyanu for the survivors. We give the younger participants a chance to ask the burning questions that arise when discussing this difficult subject, and provide them with answers as best we can.

To celebrate our survival, we share a meal, chosen to honor the culture of the victims and what they would have missed most during the dark times. We end with the singing of Lo Yisa Goy, to remind us that we must always work for peace.

In writing the seder, we have carefully included the names of the victims and survivors. This is an important reminder to all of us that they were real people, with names, faces, stories, and lives. Although we concentrate on the Jews, we also remember the many other people who died with us, simply for being who they are. They are commemorated here as well. On the other hand, we have deliberately chosen not to mention specific names of perpetrators. They are not commemorated here.