What Does "Seder" Mean?

Answered by
Rabbi Daniel B. Syme

The Hebrew word sederSederסֵדֶר"Order;" ritual dinner that includes the retelling of the story of the Israelite's Exodus from Egypt; plural: s'darim. means “order” and most often refers to the religious service and festive meal observed in Jewish households on Passover. Seder derives from the same root as the Hebrew word siddursiddurסָדוּר"Order." Refers to the Prayer Book (i.e., the "order" of the prayers). .

Just as the siddur contains the order of daily prayers, Shabbat, and festival services, so is the Passover seder - and, in many Sephardic and Mizrahi communities, the Rosh HaShanah seder - a prescribed order of prayers, readings, symbolic explanations, and songs related to the holiday. The Passover seder is the only ritual meal in the Jewish calendar year for which such an order is prescribed, hence its name.

A seder can and should be interactive – encourage questioning, fun, and learning to ensure everyone from the youngest to the oldest at your table comes away with something new!