Family & Education

How can I ensure Seder night is free of angry family broiges?

It's a question as old as the Exodus itself! And let's start by looking after the host...


A modern Jewish American family celebrates Passover together. They are gathered around the dining table, passing a pitcher of water and a bowl for hand washing.

Q Every Seder night my whole wider family get together. It usually starts off OK. But then between Gramps wanting to sing every word of the Hagadah, some teenage cousins trying to hide their TikTok under the table and an aunty who doesn’t keep her mouth shut, it all descends into chaos quicker than Moses split the Red Sea! Add to that four cups of wine and at least one person storms off before the end. How can we all get through Seder night without a broiges?

A Ah, a question as old as the Exodus itself! How do Jewish families get together and remain broiges-free?

Before giving you some tips about the guests let’s start with looking after you, the host. Hosting a Seder is hard work and if guests don’t show their appreciation it’s easy to take it personally. Before the Seder starts it can be helpful to compartmentalise: remembering that you are not responsible for other people’s emotions or behaviour.

You can be proud of all the efforts you have made to facilitate an enjoyable Seder night. If the guests don’t make the most of the opportunity, it’s their problem! In this way you’re sure to avoid resentment if things turn pear-shaped.

In terms of your own preparations, try not to leave everything to the last minute and, if possible, find time to rest before Seder starts. Then you can start off fresh and positive, raring to go. Remember also that Seder night is not just about the food. Rather than spending hours poring over recipes, buy some food in and spend time learning something inspirational to make the experience more meaningful.

The secret to a smooth Seder lies in the preparation. So here’s some tips to keep your Seder broiges-free.

First, consultation. Call up each attendee ahead of time and ask them what they like and don’t like about Seder night. If they could change one thing about the evening what would it be? Whether it’s inviting a friend or having more vegan options, see whether you can accommodate something that will make them a bit happier. Of course, every family will have its boundaries. You might not agree to challah alternatives for the korach sandwich!

Second, delegation. People are more committed to making an evening a success if they have invested in it personally. Ask each guest to contribute to Seder night. Whether it’s finding a contemporary example of slavery to discuss, or a new version of charoset to bring along, if the Seder is everyone’s responsibility, guests are more motivated to be involved.

Have prizes ready for the most creative contribution or make a raffle for everyone who helped out. Teenagers often respond well to responsibility. If you can, make a teen responsible for keeping a younger child happy or in charge of the entertainment for the little ones. Think carefully about who you are inviting and where their strengths lie. How can you harness what people enjoy, to use it to enhance everyone’s evening?

Next, open communication. Speak to everyone at the start of the Seder and set some ground rules. Ask Gramps to say every third paragraph out loud, explain that the evening is a TikTok free zone, encourage everyone to be respectful and call for a ban on criticism or negative personal comments. You might also want to move the seating around several times during the evening to keep the energy going.

Finally, realistic expectations. I’m sure that many Seder nights are uplifting, connecting and inspiring evenings.

But families are families. No one can control how your relatives behave. Difficult, ‘imperfect’ experiences are part of life and often become memories that you chuckle over in years to come. If you expect a mini-broiges or two, you’ll be happy if there’s not anything worse.

And if you expect Seder to end with a full-on punch-up you’ll be relieved when it’s just Gramps who gets a bit miffed. So prepare well, aim high but keep expectations low. That way you’ll not be disappointed. There’s a reason why the Seder ends with us all hoping to be “next year in Jerusalem”. Maybe by next year a change of scene will be just what we all need to prevent another family broiges.

Chana Hughes is a family therapist and mental health practitioner who works with families and individuals. She is also the rebbetzin of Radlett United Synagogue. Please send her your questions at

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