Passover FAQ


Who sponsors your Seder?

Our Seders are sponsored by our two Reform Jewish organizations:
The Temple of Universal Judaism (TUJ), a URJ: Union for Reform Judaism Congregation -and- TorahNYC: Reform Jewish Outreach, a TUJ community project.


Do I/we have to be a member of The Temple of Universal Judaism  -or- TorahNYC to attend?  What costs are involved?

No. All of TorahNYC’s -and- The Temple of Universal Judaism services, events, holidays, classes – even our High Holy Days – are open to all.

Generally, our programs are by donation and there is no set charge.

However, since our Tuesday, April 15 Second Night Seder is a catered event at a restaurant, we’ve must have a set charge:

$72   30 and over*
$36   13-30
$18   3-13
$ 0   under 3

If you are not a member of TUJ, we ask for an additional donation of $5-18per personto support the congregation.

Also, after April 7, there is an additional late fee of $10 per adult.

No one is ever turned away from any TUJ or TorahNYC program due to financial concerns. If you need a scholarship, please contact Rabbi Fridkis.


So children are definitely welcome at the Seder?  Is there a special place for them to play at the restaurant?

Of course: children are always welcome at TUJ! And Passover is a family holiday.  We want children with us at the Seder:

  • to help recite the Four Questions (Hebrew or English)
  • to sing with us
  • to find the Afikomen (hidden Matzah)
  • and to remind all of us that Judaism will thrive in coming generations!

Because this year’s TUJ Seder will be in a restaurant, it is especially important for parents to keep their children engaged at the table so everyone can enjoy the service and the festive meal to follow. We invite you to bring some quiet games and reading or coloring books.

While Henry’s Restaurant is open and spacious – meaning that children won’t be accidentally turning over tables! – there is no play area.  If you are especially concerned, perhaps a Babysitter can accompany your family for the Seder.


The $72 price for “Adults 30 and over” seems quite high.  Why is that?  Is the congregation making money on the Seder?

By New York City standards, $72 per adult is a very modest charge.  Please note we will be having a 5-course catered meal with Passover wine for the Seder service, including all the Seder accouterments and tips for the wait staff.

In fact, TUJ is subsidizing the costs for teens and younger adults as well as anyone in need of scholarship.

If you would like to make a donation to our Passover Seder Scholarship Fund – so those who can afford less can celebrate the holiday with us – it would be greatly appreciated.


Are non-Jews invited to attend the Seder and all TorahNYC – TUJ services and events?

Of course!The Temple of Universal Judaism and TorahNYC pride ourselves on being a “house for all people” (Isaiah 56). For forty years TUJ has been a congregation where all people – regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation – can find a Jewish home.

When TorahNYC was founded seven years ago by Rabbi Fridkis, his goal was the same: to reach out and create a spiritual “home” for those not involved in synagogue life – and to provide full access to one’s Jewish needs regardless of synagogue membership, religion, race or sexual orientation.

At TorahNYC and TUJ we know most Reform Jewish families now consist of both Jews and non-Jews.  We are especially sensitive to that and welcome all with open arms.


How long will the Seder Service and Dinner last?

First, there will be some food to “nosh” on before the service!  The Seder service will begin promptly at 6:30pm.

The Seder service will last about forty-five minutes prior to the main meal.  Rabbi Fridkis and Soloist Karen Strauss, accompanied by our Pianist Tal Blumstein, will lead English readings and a great deal of joyous Passover songs in both Hebrew and English.

Before partaking of the Matzah and Maror (Bitter Herbs), Haroset (Chopped Apples and Nuts combined with Passover Wine) and the Ceremonial Hard-boiled Egg), we will open the door for Elijah the Prophet as we pray for a redemptive live for ourselves and all people.

The Festive Meal will then be served, lasting about an hour or so.

Following the meal and dessert (not to be confused with desert :)), there will be a very brief, five-minute conclusion to the Seder, including sharing the Afikomen (last bit of Matzah), an additional cup/sip of wine and a joyous closing with the singing of Had Gadya.


Why is TUJ’s Seder service so long?  In my family we read the Hagadah for five or ten minutes, then enjoy the meal together.

The Rabbis of the 1st-3rd centuries centuries created the Seder as a meal and symposium where Jews would come together to speak about the Exodus from Egypt and enjoy festive foods to commemorate that seminal event in Israelite history. Two thousand years later we follow the same prescribed tradition!

Passover is Judaism most important family-centered festive commemoration.  It is also Judaism’s our holy day focused on our origins as a people, our place in this world and our thoughts about what is beyond our physical lives.

Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are important High Holy Days.  They are a time for the individual to consider and improve his/her life.

But the night of the Passover Seder is truly the holy day of the Jewish people and the Jewish soul.


How will attendees participate in the service?

Both Seders will include readings and songs in both Hebrew and English, as well as readings led by Rabbi Fridkis.  If you would like to lead a small part, please hand a note with your name to Rabbi Fridkis.  If you wish to lead ashort Hebrew portion, please be able to read the Hebrew fluently.

There will be melodies to sing as well as tambourines and maracas to play. All Hebrew songs will be available in both the original Hebrew – as well as English transliteration – so all can participate.

Finally, we invite the children to lead us in the traditional Ma Nishtana: The Four Questions.


What type of Hagadah does the Seder service follow?

We use a traditional Hagadah for Hebrew, English and song.  We also have some wonderful English words written by Rabbi Fridkis for Dayenu. Some portions of the service will be shortened: otherwise the Seder service itself could last more than two hours!

We’ve added a modern song celebrating the heroism of Miriam and the Israelite women in the escape from Egypt. (As the Hagadah was compiled between the 1st-11th centuries, women’s contributions and voices are noticeably – and predictably – absent from the ancient Hebrew text.)


What is the menu for the festive Passover meal?

The Temple of Universal Judaism is proud to be offering a full five–course Passover meal.  The Managers and Chef at Henry’s Restaurant are exited about the culinary creativity of the Passover Seder.

  • Prior to the Seder Service, a First Course of Chopped Liver and Matzah
  • A Second Course of Matzah, Haroset (Chopped Apples, Nuts and Passover Wine) and a traditional Hard-Boiled Egg
  • A Third Course of Chicken Soup with Freshly Cooked Carrots and a Matzah Ball
  • A Main Course, featuring your choice of:
    1. Braised Brisket of Beef with Gravy, Fingerling Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables
    2. Roasted Half Chicken also with two side dishes
    3. A Vegetarian Entrée and two side dishes
  • Dessert

We will provide for the Four Ceremonial Cups of Wine.  Additional Glasses and Bottles of Israeli, Kosher Wines, as well as American and International Wines are available through Henry’s Wine Menu.  Soft Drinks will also be available through the restaurant.


Is grape juice available for those who do not drink wine?

TorahNYC and Congregation Da’at Elohim always haveboth sacramental wine as well as grape juice available (for anyone – who for any reason – does not partake of alcohol).


Will the Seder meal be Kosher for Passover?

In keeping with Reform Jewish tradition, there will be no Hametz (leavened products including leavened bread, cake or ingredients) at our Seder. However, the meat and chicken are not certified Kosher. Anyone who does not eat non-Kosher Brisket of Beef or Chicken is invited to order the Vegetarian Entrée.


Will there be vegan and gluten-free foods available?

There will be a number of vegetable and potato items on the menu as well as the Vegetarian Entrée.

In addition, we will have Kosher for Passover Oat Matzah for those with gluten sensitivity or allergies. (Like all Kosher for Passover Matzah, Passover Oat Matzah is baked before the holiday, lest any uncookedcrumbsbecome leaven on the holiday itself.)

ABOUT The Temple of Universal Judaism and TorahNYC:

What kind of congregation is The Temple of Universal Judaism?

The Temple of Universal Judaism (TUJ)is a URJ: Union for Reform Judaism congregation.TUJ is a mainstream Reform congregation with a very open-minded, inclusive perspective.

TUJ is also a very warm and inviting congregation.  Whenever you visit us, many will greet you with “Shabbat Shalom,” “Happy Holiday” or simply “we are glad to meet you.”  Moreover we take pride in warmly welcoming and talking to guests.

The Temple of Universal Judaism prides itself on being a “house for all people” (Isaiah 56). For forty years TUJ has been a congregation where all people – regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation – can find a Jewish home.  While we are definitely a mainstream Reform Jewish congregation, some of our members are not Jewish!


What is TorahNYC?
TorahNYC was founded five years ago by Rabbi Fridkis to reach out to those not involved in synagogue life to provide a Jewish spiritual “home.”

Now that Rabbi Fridkis is Rabbi of TUJ, TorahNYC receives funding from the congregation.  It has become the Outreach arm of The Temple, which means all TUJ services, classes and celebrations are open to all.

Like The Temple of Universal Judaism, TorahNYC believes Judaism and Jewish living must be open to everyone in the community, regardless of synagogue membership, religion, race or sexual orientation.You don’t even have to be Jewish !!! to come to TorahNYC or The Temple of Universal Judaism.

Please come and join us for our Annual 2nd Night Passover Seder on Tuesday, April 15 @6pm – or anytime!  You will surely receive a warm welcome.