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Jan 12, 2010 06:54 AM

Passover/seder meal in Manhattan

My brother is coming to visit Manhattan/Brooklyn during passover, and he wants to teach his two young kids about passover (also his wife is a vegetarian, to make things more complicated) and is looking for a seder meal that is open to anyone (none of us are Jewish, but he wants to teach his kids about world religions and about respecting different traditions). Anyone know of a good restaurant that is kid friendly, where waiters are knowledgeable and would be willing to talk about some of the foods? Or another venue that would be open would be good. I saw a couple of passover threads, but nothing caught my eye. Thanks for any leads you can provide!

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  1. Where to begin.....

    Steve, you will find plenty of restaurants that will be serving Passover style food right around the first two nights of the holiday, and probably advertising it as "sedars". It will probably be a multi course meal the mimics what my Aunt Ettie used to serve, but the Sedar meal is only one small part of the Sedar......

    I'm not sure how eating Matzoh ball soup and brisket and flourless chocolate cake in an unkosher facility achieves what your brother's goals are. I also am very dubious of waiters taking the time to teach the family about the significance of each of the foods. If you want to achieve some semblance of the real deal I would look at the offerings of some of the Reform or Reconstructionist congregations in the city and see which of them are holding community sedars, that will probably be the best fit for what your needs are.

    Good Luck

    2 Replies
    1. re: vallevin

      "I also am very dubious of waiters taking the time to teach the family about the significance of each of the foods."

      Agreed. And I'm not sure the waiters will even know, to be honest. They're just hired to serve the food. On Passover night, they are probably overwhelmed.

      What you really need is to have an opportunity to attend a full seder. I'm sure there are synagogues that have communal dinners as suggested.

      Keep in mind that the seder isn't a meal. It's an experience. There's much more to it than the food.

      1. re: vallevin

        The Actor's Temple on West 47th street does a yearly non traditional second night seder with performances and great safardic style food (Fish + vegetarian dishes - not necessarily traditional food like brisket etc.) They have reasonable pricing for families with kids - and they do an abbreviated version of the seder so you are not sitting for hours waiting to eat. Rabbi Jill is a doll and puts on a great Passover

        - you can reach her at

        they are definitely open to the public with paid reservations

      2. Chabad of Midtown does a really really nice Seder experience at The Prime Grill every year Passover - the food is delicious, the explanations are beautiful - it's a really special experience.

        11 Replies
        1. re: brooklynkoshereater

          I'd agree that Chabad does a great job, and The Prime Grill does masterful food, HOWEVER for a non-Jewish family with kids, I don't think they want to wait till 9:30 or 10:00 PM to eat .

          1. re: vallevin

            Unless the OP would keep their identity hidden, I wonder if Chabad would even accept having non-Jews at a seder. That's clearly not their intended audience, and there can be halachic issues with non-Jews at yom tov meals (as opposed to shabbos meals, where there is not a problem). Also, would Chabad be able to accommodate a vegetarian?

            I haven't had any dealings with them in over 25 years, so I really have no idea how they do these large meals, if they take anyone or not, etc.

            1. re: queenscook

              Which is why I suggested Reform or Reconstructionist..... not that Chabad screens for these things. But the Ref. and Rec. community sedars have a much greater chance of other non-Jews attending (for a certain level of comfort for the family in question) and probably do not obligate themselves to halachot of z'manim so that the meal gets served earlier (which seems to be the major goal of the family).

              1. re: vallevin

                There are churches that do seders too.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  Seders as seders, or seders as The Last Supper?

                  1. re: GilaB

                    I would inquire at a nearby reform or conservative synagogue.

                  2. re: DeisCane

                    For a non-Jewish family I think that a church is the best way to go. They will get some of the history behind Pesach and the Seder and at the same time they will get a "flavor" of it. And no Jews are not supposed to have non-Jews by the Seder.

                    1. re: YosefGoldstein

                      It's not that the Seder is a magical time forbidden to non-Jews, it's that while Jews are allowed to cook for themselves and other Jews on a holiday, one can't cook for a non-Jew on the holiday itself. The rav of my shul pointed out years ago in his Shabbos HaGadol drasha that if one wanted to invite a non-Jew to a seder, that was the year to do it, since the first seder was on a Friday night, when there was definitely not going to be any cooking involved, as it was assur for everybody.

                2. re: queenscook

                  Chabad would have no objection in principle to a non-Jewish family showing up for the seder, though that is certainly not their intended audience. As for the halachic issue, the restaurant is cooking the food, Chabad is just supervising; and if the person doing the cooking isn't Jewish either (which is very likely, since any Jewish chef is probably going to want the night off to be at his own seder) then there's no problem. The same applies to the vegetarian; Chabad will do its best to accommodate vegetarians at meals it caters, but here it's a non-issue because it's the restaurant doing the catering, and it certainly has experience dealing with this.

                  The main reason why this family would probably not want to go to Chabad or any full traditional seder is, as vallevin says, that the full experience would probably be too much for them, especially the not eating until very late.

                  1. re: zsero

                    Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. We certainly don't want to do anything that would feel intrusive to anyone, so I will take all of your comments and suggestions to heart. Really appreciate everyone providing these suggestions and info

            2. City Winery is doing a Seder with some cool people and all veggie.