Seder for Gentiles: 10 Tips for Attending Your First Passover

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If you’re dating someone Jewish, there’s a good possibility that you’ll be invited to his or her family’s Passover celebration. This is awesome for you: not only will you get to get in good with the family, but you’ll get to eat a lot of delicious food, as well! (Oh — and share in a religious celebration that is meaningful to your significant other, etc., etc.)

Of course, attending a religious event that’s unfamiliar to you can be stressful, especially when you’re worried about making a good impression on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family. Here are some tips that will ensure that it all goes smoothly.

1. Dress Nicely

Passover is a big deal, so dress nicely (and conservatively!) when you show up for dinner. You also might want to ask your significant other how his or her family feels about modesty.

“I was planning to wear a sleeveless dress to dinner, but luckily my boyfriend reminded me to bring a cardigan because his mother always covers her shoulders,” Date Report contributor Lilit Marcus says. “My ex’s family, on the other hand, was fine with me wearing a tank top to dinner. So it never hurts to check ahead of time.”

2. Bring a Gift

Obviously, you should always bring something small when you go to your significant other’s parents’ house for dinner. For Passover, the best options are a bottle of Kosher Wine, macaroons, or a fruit salad. And you can never go wrong with a simple bouquet of flowers. (But whatever you do, don’t bring anything with flour during Passover!)

3. Be Prepared to Participate

There’s a good chance you’ll be asked to participate in the ceremony by reading certain passages aloud. Even if you hate audience participation, it would be pretty rude to turn this down! But don’t worry: you’ll have a script (called the Haggadah), and won’t be asked to do anything off the cuff.

4. Try a Little Bit of Everything

There are certain foods that are included in the seder plate for religious purposes, such as the gefilte fish (usually carp/pike), Charoset (a fruit and nut mix), and bitter herbs. You don’t have to clean your plate, but unless you’re allergic, you should really try everything served to you, out of deference to the host and the religious traditions these foods represent.

5. Wikipedia

You might want to spend a few minutes on the “Passover” Wikipedia page before attending, just so you aren’t completely in the dark about the meanings behind the ceremony and order of events.

6. Learn Who Will Be Attending Ahead of Time

It’s a good idea to ask your significant other who will be attending the dinner and if there’s anything you need to know about them.

“My boyfriend’s brother is Orthodox and won’t touch women, so I know not to try and shake hands with him,” Lilit told us.

7. Offer to Help

The best possible way to ingratiate yourself to your significant other’s family is to offer to pitch in and help. This can mean anything from setting the table to doing the dishes to keeping an eye on the kids.

8. Keep Kosher While You’re There

As long as you’re there, keep the same dietary rules as the host family. This might mean no bread! Learn to love matzah. (It’s good!)

9. Beware of Other Possible Restrictions

According to Lilit:

“Some people who are very religious also have rules about what kinds of toothpaste, lipstick, and other products you can use during Passover. Check with your partner or online to see what’s appropriate. (This is the one my boyfriend sent me) His family always has new toothbrushes and special Passover-approved toothpaste for their guests to use, so I am not bringing my own.”

10. Ask Questions!

You want to show your significant other and their family that you are respectful of and interested in learning about their religious traditions. Try to actively participate in the proceedings by asking questions and keeping involved. Ask about the family’s choice of Haggadah, ask about the meanings behind certain foods, recipes, etc. At the very least, it’s something to keep the conversation going, but the family will almost certainly appreciate your active interest and engagement.