Rabbi Serena Eisenberg and Israel's then-Consul General Shlomi Kofman at the AJC Diplomats Seder at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, March 22, 2018. (Photo/AJC-Mariah Tiffany)
Rabbi Serena Eisenberg and Israel's then-Consul General Shlomi Kofman at the AJC Diplomats Seder at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, March 22, 2018. (Photo/AJC-Mariah Tiffany)

Bay Area Passover seders: free and low-cost community options

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“Bring extra layers in case the night gets cool” isn’t something you used to see in a listing for a Passover seder. But because of the pandemic, organizers of a few of the seders listed below have moved their tables, chairs and seder plates outside.

All of the seders listed herein are community gatherings that are open to the public, and almost all require advance registration. Some but not all are free.

The seders cover a range of ground, from interfaith seders to a women’s seder to traditional seders run by Chabad centers and synagogues. One seder is a follow-up to the Los Gatos Stands United Against Hate Walk held in November. Another doubles as a fundraiser for the Chicken Soupers, and another program that feeds homebound seniors and those in need. And one seder is showcasing the determination to move forward by a Chabad in San Jose whose brand-new building suffered severe fire damage in December.

Many of the seders are on the first night of Passover, this year Friday, April 15, but there are also a number of second-night seders on April 16.

San Francisco

Monday, April 11

AJC San Francisco Diplomats Passover — American Jewish Committee of S.F. presents a Passover program in Sherith Israel’s grand sanctuary, including an exploration of the Szyk Haggadah, preceded by hors d’oeuvres and wines. Free Szyk Haggadah for attendees. At Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., S.F. 5-7:30 p.m. Free.

Friday, April 15

Birthright Judaism seder — A free seder and dinner for Jewish adults between ages 21 to 32. Presented by an initiative that’s a joint effort of the Bay Area’s Russian-speaking Jewish community, EZRA USA and young Jewish professional programs at local Chabad centers. Dinners in San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Clara and San Jose; times/locations provided upon signing up.

Chabad of the Neighborhood — Includes wine, dinner and immersive haggadah reading. At 333 West Portal Ave., S.F. 8 p.m. $54, registration required.

JCC of San Francisco — Led by Rabbi Batshir Torchio and songleader Jonathan Bayer, and catered by Delicious Catering. Menu includes matzah ball soup and herb-roasted chicken. Vegetarian, gluten free and kids’ options available. Proof of vaccination and masks required. At JCCSF, 3200 California St. 6-9:30 p.m. $44-$79.

Chabad seder at historic San Francisco Mint — Chabad SF-SoMa Shul presents an outdoor seder with haggadah reading, hand-baked matzah, dinner and outdoor heaters. All welcome, no background or affiliation necessary. At Mint Building, 88 Fifth St., S.F. 7-11 p.m. $36-$75, registration required.

Saturday, April 16

Congregation Am TikvahCatered by Dina’s Kosher, the menu includes smoky eggplant spread, gefilte fish, herb-marinated roasted chicken and vegetarian options. Livestream available. Register by March 30. At Am Tikvah, 625 Brotherhood Way, S.F. 6:30 p.m. $18-$36, virtual and kids under 5 free.

Congregation Sherith Israel — This seder doubles as a fundraiser for the synagogue’s Chicken Soupers and HaMotzi programs, which feed homebound seniors, those in need of healing and residents of local shelters. At Sherith Israel, Newman Hall, 2266 California St., S.F. 6-8 p.m. $50 adults, $20 kids, under 5 free.

Tuesday, April 19

“USF Interfaith Seder” — Online social justice–focused seder centered on themes of climate justice, interfaith solidarity, peace, health and freedom. Presented by Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at USF. 6:30-8 p.m. Free. For Zoom link, register here.

East Bay

Friday, April 15

Chabad of Oakland — Seder includes wine, dinner and Hebrew and English readings. At Chabad of Oakland, 3014 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. 7:30 p.m. $0-50.

Chabads of Danville and San Ramon — Two Contra Costa County Chabads team up to present a seder mostly in English, with hand-baked matzah and four-course meal. At Sycamore Homes Association clubhouse, 635 Old Orchard Drive, Danville. 7:15 p.m. $50 adults, $20 kids.

Chabad of Oakland — Beginner-friendly seder with dinner, selection of wines, and Hebrew and English readings. At Chabad of Oakland, 3014 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. 7:30 p.m. Free.

Chabad of Contra Costa, in English and RussianChoose a seder led in English, or one led in Russian by Ukrainian-born Rabbi Yitzchok Tsap; both at same time and location. Menu includes gefilte fish, caramelized onion chicken, wines and more. At Chabad of Contra Costa, 1671 Newell Ave., Walnut Creek. 7:45 p.m. $45 adults, $30 kids.

Chabad of the Delta Includes wine, dinner and seder. At Brentwood Senior Center, 193 Griffith Lane, Brentwood. 7:30 p.m. Free, donations suggested, registration required. 

Saturday, April 16

Kehilla Community Synagogue — The community of social progressives and spiritual seekers located on the Oakland-Piedmont border hosts an online seder followed by Havdalah ceremony. 5-8 p.m. Free.

Peninsula/South Bay

Thursday, April 7

OFJCC Women’s Seder — Get a jump on Passover and its traditions from a feminist perspective, focusing on women’s voices and experiences as they relate to the Passover narrative. With vegetarian kosher-style dinner. At Oshman Family JCC, Arrillaga Family Pavilion, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 7-9 p.m. $18.

Friday, April 15

Palo Alto JCC — All-ages seder at the Oshman Family JCC with haggadah reading, traditional songs, stories, spiritual insights, wine and a kosher-style buffet dinner served at 6 p.m. Proof of vaccination and masks required. At OFJCC, Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 5-7 p.m. $20.

Chabad of San Jose — Seder with haggadah reading, hand-baked matzah, wine and dinner. At Chabad of San Jose, 15405 Los Gatos Blvd., Suite 204, Los Gatos. 7:30 p.m. $45 adults, $30 kids under 10.

Chabad of Almaden — The Chabad in San Jose that suffered fire damage in December forges onward with a first-night seder at 7:30 p.m. and then a second-nighter at 8:30 p.m. Limited capacity. At 5931 Porto Alegre Drive, San Jose. No price listed, donations welcome.

Saturday, April 16

Congregation Beth Am — A seder with a buffet dinner catered by Nathan Schmidt. Register by April 12. At Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills. 6-8 p.m. $72 adults, $54 kids.

Congregation Beth Shalom of Modesto — A seder with an extensive menu including brisket, salmon, kugel, gefilte fish and matzah ball soup. Optional “Seder Part 2” with more discussion and wine/juice at 8:30 p.m. Register by April 13. At Beth Shalom, 1705 Sherwood Ave., Modesto. 6 p.m. $45, discount for members.

North Bay

Friday, April 15

Chabad of Novato — The story of the Exodus dotted with Kabbalistic insights, mystical teachings and a three-course meal. At Chabad of Novato, 695 De Long Ave., Suite 101, Novato. 7:30 p.m. $50 adults, $40 kids, $10 discount by April 4.

Chabad of Petaluma — English-friendly seder with handmade matzah and dinner. At Chabad Jewish Center of Petaluma, 205 Keller St., No. 101, Petaluma. 7:30 p.m. $54 adults, $36 kids.

Chabad of Sonoma County — Traditional seder and dinner with subsidized meals available for those who require a discount. At Joseph Weingarten Chabad Jewish Center, 2461 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 7:30 p.m. $50 adults, $20 kids.

Saturday, April 16

Congregation Ner Shalom — Outdoor seder in the synagogue’s new courtyard with catered vegetarian fare. Bring a coat in case it’s cold. At Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati. 5-8 p.m. $53, discount for members.

Congregation Rodef Sholom — A music-filled seder with a menu including vegetarian matzah ball soup, brisket with gravy, potato-acorn squash puree and parve desserts. Vegetarian options. At Rodef Sholom, 170 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 5-7 p.m. $65-$75, discount for members.

B’nai Israel Jewish Center Rabbi Ted Feldman leads virtual seder using Family Haggadah by PJ Library. 6:30 p.m. Free.