How to Host an Anarchy Seder


Many a Passover seder leader finds herself pulled between the opposing poles of structure and chaos. One method of finding that balance: the anarchy seder.

At anarchy seders, like the one Rabbi Susan Elizabeth Lippe holds at her Austin, Texas home every year, participants are encouraged to embrace the chaos. They choose from a range of haggadot, then take turns going around the table, reading whatever appears in their haggadah, regardless of what appears in others’. Leaders are advised to maintain a casual, somewhat anarchic atmosphere, encouraging anyone to jump in if something moving or interesting appears in their haggadah.

The anarchy seder requires two things, according to Rabbi Lippe, who learned the term from her friend, author Abram Shalom Himelstein. First, the people: “An anarchy seder needs willing participants who bring their curiosity and their humor,” she says. And it’s field day for the indecisive, because the second thing that’s needed is a trove of haggadahs. Like this illustrated one, this kids’ one, or—no, and—this do-it-yourself version.

Though it can be a difficult balancing act, an anarchy seder can be lively, spontaneous and engaging. But a word to the wise: it’s not the simplest choice for first-time seder leaders.


Some haggadot to consider including in your anarchy seder:
» Enjoy easy access with A Different Night: The Family Participation Haggadah, an insightful contemporary haggadah
» Rile up your guests with The Women’s Haggadah, a classic feminist haggadah
» Create your own! It’s not too late.
» Stick with the classic Maxwell House haggadah

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