The Slacker’s Guide to Celebrating Passover

Interesting choice to leave the planning until literally one week before the holiday, but I'm here to help, not judge (mostly).

There are two kinds of Jews in this world: Jews who start prepping for Passover in February, and Jews who woke up today and said “Passover’s next week?!?!” I am the former. If you are the latter, I regret to inform you that yes, first night seder is in seven days. But don’t worry — I’m here to help! If you haven’t made Passover plans yet, this guide is for you.

Low Key Plans

So let’s start by affirming that you absolutely don’t need to do anything “major” for Passover. If attending or hosting a full-on sit-down seder is simply not in the cards for you this year, c’est la vie! But observing this holiday doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you’d like something low key, here are some options:

1. Go buy some matzah right now.

Depending on where you live, this will either be super easy or quite challenging. If you struggle to find matzah in stores where you live (looking at you, rural Oregon, where I lived for several years), order online. Whether you’re planning to keep kosher for Passover strictly or not, having some matzah around to nosh on throughout the holiday will put you in the spirit.

2. Get in touch with your Jewish friends and/or family.

Maybe some of your pals are putting together a last minute seder and would like to include you. Maybe your family is a mere 30-minute train ride away and would love to host you. Maybe, like you, they’ve all been too busy or uninterested in planning anything for Passover. Whether or not this step leads to you actually attending a seder is not the point; connecting with your loved ones over a shared religious moment is the point. Part of why Jewish holidays are so special is because we’re able to gather with our community; take this moment to reach out to yours.

3. Register to watch “A Rugrats Passover” with Hey Alma.

Listen. If the only way you acknowledge Passover every year is by watching the “Rugrats” Passover episode — dayenu. Luckily, we’ve got you covered this year. Join us on Wednesday April 17 (that’s just two days away!) for a virtual community watch party. Details here, you’re welcome.

4. Consider attending a public event.

Maybe you’re realizing that you do want to attend a seder, or some sort of program that acknowledges Passover, but you and your friends and family simply are not able to put one together yourselves. That’s OK! That’s what our extended religious community is for. Check out some synagogues in your area to see if they still have tickets available for their events, and if you’re looking for something virtual, the organizations listed in last week’s advice column are a good place to start.

High Key Plans

OK, perhaps you do want to host a seder. Interesting choice to leave the planning until literally one week before the holiday, but I’m here to help, not judge (mostly), so let’s go over how you can make your last minute seder a success.

1. Invite your guests.

Some people make Passover plans months in advance, so it’s possible some of your pals are already committed to other seder plans. Reach out to anyone you’d like to share this ritual dinner with and make sure they’re available. You can get creative with dates if you want — if folks are already committed to another seder, or if Monday evenings are challenging for much of the group, consider hosting a second night seder or hosting a seder later in the week or on the weekend. Is it traditional? No. Should that stop you? In my humble opinion, no.

2. Make some lists. Trust me.

Once you have your guest list set, make a list of everything you’ll need. That includes ritual items (seder plate, items on the seder plate, haggadahs, a little prize for whoever finds the afikomen), every piece of food that will be consumed (matzah, maror and charoset are obvious, but also consider what you’re eating for a main course, what your kosher for Passover dessert will be, if there are any dietary restrictions you need to take into account) and any decorations you desire (this isn’t a necessity but like, if you want to use a tablecloth or specific fancy plates, those items count as “decorations”). The point is, you want a written document of every single thing you possibly need to obtain, make or do before your seder.

Once you have that list, create a second list that breaks down each task associated with each item you’ll need. For example: Seder plate (take out of storage, find in attic); matzah (buy asap); flourless chocolate cake (see if Julia will make her amazing recipe); extra chairs (ask neighbors if we can borrow, ask Adam if he’ll pick them up en route).

The point with a written list is that once everything is out of your head and on a piece of paper, you won’t forget about it and you’ll be able to organize more efficiently. Do I do this for every single dinner party I ever host? Yes. If that slightly dramatic? Sure. Do I maintain that for a big dinner like a seder or Thanksgiving, this is absolutely nonnegotiable? Also yes. Sorry not sorry.

3. Delegate!

You gotta let people help you when you’re hosting a seder. Ask every single guest what they’d like to contribute. Think of it as a potluck if that’s helpful. If a guest isn’t particularly into cooking, no worries — they can pick up the wine, source a seder plate, lead the actual seder itself with their favorite haggadah, etc. There’s a job (probably multiple!) for everyone — give it to them.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

This tip is true for many moments in life, but it’s extra true when you’re throwing together a last-minute Passover seder. Plan as best as you can, and then just let yourself enjoy. Things may not go perfectly (they almost certainly won’t) but at the end of the day, you’re celebrating Passover with your Jewish community and you pulled it off in less than a week — mazel tov!

Read More