Escape the Passover Anxiety Trap!

Image: Gerbera daisy. Photo by Pezibear at

Passover is coming at us like a freight train. I’ve gotten rid of my chametz, but my kitchen is buried in preparations: pans and ingredients are in piles only I understand and the refrigerator is filling up fast. I’ve located the Passover boxes with dishes and linens and seder-stuff.

Company is coming and I can feel some old anxieties rising. Will they have enough to eat? Will they like what I’ve planned? Are there enough dishes for everyone? Who will sit where? Will so-and-so behave nicely? What will I do if they don’t?


I invite you to take the moment I took earlier this evening and go through your anxieties. Separate them into three lists: (1) things I can control, (2) things I can’t control, and (3) things that don’t matter anyway. The only worries that are worth my precious time right now are the things I can control.

It will be OK. There will be food. If I burn all of it, we’ll eat Hillel sandwiches and have a story to tell for years to come. They’ll all like something, and if they have any manners at all, they won’t announce what they don’t like. I have enough dishes. They can sit where they want, since that is what they’ll do anyway. And if someone misbehaves, that is their bad behavior, not mine. Again, maybe a story to tell someday.

It’s easy to get so wound up over a “perfect seder” that we forget what we are really doing: We’re gathering to tell the story and make it our own.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

8 thoughts on “Escape the Passover Anxiety Trap!”

  1. perfect reminder as we close in on the Pesach holidays, so I will breathe deeply and thank HaShem we are here to relive the deliverance.

  2. I’m solving the anxiety problem by going to a communal Seder, and bringing the cake. What I like is not worrying about getting guests to be at my Seder, and messing up the order of events.I’m still worried about the cleanliness of my home, though, and following the food restrictions.

  3. I love your post. I know I have lived this. I am learning to relax more and worry less. I will get the house cleaned up and straightened up, and if it is not ‘perfect’, ya know, no one is coming to seder to check out your house! I do want to make time to review the service and this is in my control.

    This year we are going to get together for the second night, since we had a calendar collision with Good Friday, and most at my table are not Jewish. This year, when I wrote to everyone who is coming to Seder (friends like family or ‘fambly’), to give food assignments, I started this way: Holy cow fambly…we are heading out of Egypt and into freedom, on Saturday evening. As always, I do need your help in making this the feast and great experience we have all come to expect.

    I know that we will have a wonderful and meaningful time together…everyone has responded with genuine affection and glee.

    1. I love your approach! Some years it is the right time for a big formal “thing” of a seder, and some years a more casual approach is the way to go. I wish you and yours a zissen Pesach, a sweet Passover!

  4. I went yesterday to a seder at religious friends: from 10.00 pm to… far into night!
    Well, everything went well, though the attendants were a motley crew!
    An ex-convict, myself, ultra-religious guests, a tattoed guy, a bankrupt trader, young children and teenagers, and so on.
    A debate finally erupted: you know how Jews are. If they behave at your seder in the beginning, they’ll find lots of topics to bicker about!
    We didn’t bicker: we just displayed different points of view, discussed, and took our departs calmly, with the will to say: “Nah, next year’s PassOver, not in Jerusalem, but here, we just love it!”
    What a seder!
    Don’t ask now why I feel good with Jews! 🙂

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