Las night, I hosted 10 beautiful people for Passover at my bungalow in Santa Monica. It was a dream come true to bring people from different worlds of mine together, some who had never experienced Passover before, some who often don’t, and others who do Passover every year, for a remixed sedar.
There were so many people who I want to thank who I truly could not have done this without. Dani Duke, my twin sister, who worked many many hours to compile a draft of the Haggadah we used from many different texts and who also hosted her own vegan Passover sedar in Boston just a few hours ahead of ours. My amazing friend Sean who helped me cook, bake, chop, prepare, and set up EVERYTHING. My friends Ben and Johanna who printed out the Haggadahs and brought extra chairs so I didn’t have to turn anyone away. My friend Cari who brought the salt so we could dip our bitter herbs. And of course, we would not have been here without OneTable, one of the most incredible organizations that I am so lucky to be involved in. OneTable empowers people to host and attend Shabbats (or in the case, Passovers) that are unique, valuable, and sustainable by setting hosts up with the tools they need to succeed; guidance, money per person to provide food, and a platform. Bringing good people together from my many different worlds to share the plant-based food I enjoy and traditions I love, while celebrating our most beautiful holidays is honestly one of the most special and meaningful things I’ve ever done.
I wanted to create this post incase anyone in the future is curious and desiring of hosting their own Passover and would like to replicate or learn from what I did last night.
First, see if you can sign up to be a OneTable host. Aside from all of the wonderful help OneTable offers with empowering you to host in your own unique way, they also give you $15 per person for each person who RSVPs, which helps with the cost of food. I normally charge $5 when I host, as I realize it furthers the level of commitment from my friends… if you pay, you’re more likely to come. Also, it helps towards the REAL cost of the dinner (even with $15 per person, I was still $100 over of my own money as I really wanted the night to be special) so charging can help cover the difference. I’ve done $5 in the past because I really don’t want it to be difficult for anyone to attend, but next time for a holiday I will likely charge $10 since it’s still affordable but can actually cover the cost.
Next, you want to make sure everyone RSVPs and you have a legitimate head count- see if people are planning to bring plus ones (they should have added them on the invite) so you know you have enough room for everyone. The New Moon Shabbat I threw recently had 18 people there and since it wasn’t a sit down dinner, people didn’t need seats. We had Rahel’s Vegan Ethiopian Food so people grabbed food at our “buffet” and sat on couches and comfortably on the floor. But if you’re doing a holiday meal like Passover, it makes sense to make sure you have seats for everyone.
During the week before Passover, my sister found texts online for a Haggadah that we wanted to create ourselves. Since we are both passionate about veganism, earth justice, sustainability, social justice, and using yoga and Kabbalah to make sense of Jewish themes, we knew that we wanted to create our own Haggadah using existing texts for a vegan Sedar. While Dani scoured through documents, I sent her quotes from my friend Jenny’s Kabbalah Shabbat emails, friends Passover posts, and Kabbalah centre blog post readings I’ve been doing. Dani compiled texts into a 47 page google doc that she edited down to 8 pages, and then I went through her 8 pages and added some stuff to make it the final 12 page Haggadah that we used.
I am posting the PDF here but it is a living & breathing document, and as I learn more, I hope to add more. Additionally, this is only a jumping off point, as the real learning should come from people’s perspectives and thoughts at the table.
With Dani’s draft of her Boston meal, I planned a meal. At the sedar, we were having so much fun and I was so present in the moment that I forgot to take pictures of the food unfortunately (this happened with the New Moon Shabbat too… next time I need to put one of my friends on photography // social media duty so I can make sure we get some great photos of everything). I am always nervous because this food is delicious to me but my palette is so adjusted to a clean way of eating- by not eating processed foods, added oils, added sugars, etc, I can really taste the flavors of fruits and vegetables in ways that people who are eating processed food simply cannot… so I always worry if people will like the food.
Good news, everyone ate food that is TRULY health-promoting and nourishing, AND they all really enjoyed it (which thrills me)! There was no dollars directly contributed to violence, and hopefully people have a more expansive idea of what a vegan meal can be.
Here are the recipes for everything we made:
- Smoked chickpeas which were on the table for munching
- We didn’t end up doing the olives or the peppers, was just too much
- Charoset –> apples, cinnamon, walnuts, and grape juice
- First we chopped up the apples and walnuts and just mixed it together with cinnamon and grape juice. I always liked charoset that wasn’t pureed, but it just tasted like apples and walnuts so I ended up throwing it into the food processor and it came out WAY better. We had too much grape juice so we just added more apples and walnuts and it came out perfectly
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts —> brussel sprouts with a balsamic // dijon mustard // maple syrup glaze
- This is Chef AJ‘s recipe that I learned from her cooking class last year someone else posted it here.
- I usually don’t use maple syrup, and just do half mustard half balsamic, but it’s a holiday so did it. Delicious both ways.
- It’s a huge favorite of everyone whose eaten it, I actually prefer to roast them and eat them after they’ve been in refrigerator (they’re AMAZING cold).
- This is the balsamic you should use, it’s thicker than balsamic vinegar (you can get it at Whole Foods)
- I roasted on a silpat instead of parchment paper- either is great because you don’t need oil but I prefer a silpat because it creates less waste!
- Curried Quinoa
- This was just amazing. The tahini in this… I mean the tahini in anything.. but the tahini in this.. wow!
- Israeli Rainbow Salad
- This really took me back to my 3 months spent in Israel.. which I’ve been missing so much lately
- No oil necessary at all!! I think Dani didn’t use oil but used potato starch instead for thickness but we just used lemon juice and it was perfect
- The Jessie Salad —> 2 different kale mixes massaged with avocado; and with grapes cut in half, raisins, walnuts, beets, fresh mint, and Brandi from The Vegan 8’s incredible spicy tahini dressing
- I’m going to start calling it the Jessie Salad because every time I cook for people I make some variation of a massaged kale with avocado salad with different fruits and nuts
- Barbecue Lentil Loaf
- Brandi from the Vegan 8 is my favorite blogger- all of her recipes are less than 8 ingredients and oil free
- This loaf is SO GOOD!!!! I made it for my film fraternity’s Passover I threw 2 years ago. AMAZING
- Sweet Potato Kugle
- I used orange sweet potatoes and Japanese sweet potatoes
- I had no regard for the measurements here.. just kinda threw in apples and potatoes as I pleased
- Whole Foods ran out of matzah meal so I left that out and this was a big hit
- I also bought Enjoy Life (vegan and oil free) dark chocolate chips to melt on strawberries and matzah but we ended up not doing it because people were eating pretty late and my friend brought dessert she passed out, but that’s on the menu for next time 🙂
Now for the details of actually making this thing happen:
Saturday morning around 10am I went to Whole Foods and did a huge shop. Make sure you give yourself enough time to shop and cook- without taking a break, I started at about 10am and cooked up until 6:20pm (people arrived at 6:30pm).
Luckily, I have a beautiful reclaimed wooden table (that was my workman’s desk in New Jersey, but is now my dining room table in Santa Monica) AND a hard plastic folding long table that was exactly the same width so it ended up looking like a pretty awesome long table (#aesthetic). I covered the ugly hard plastic table in a green and brown elephant tapestry which worked perfectly. In addition to 6 upholstered dining room chairs, I brought in chairs from my outdoor table (and had 2 chairs from Ben & Johanna also). I also strung lights above the table (it actually was placed perfectly) but to my upset, the lights wouldn’t work!!! I was so nervous because the overhead lighting in my apartment is pretty gross, but with the light coming in from outside and all of the tea lights, it was perfect and vibey evening. I also opened all of the windows and the door so we had lots of cool air (one of my friend’s even said it felt like we were outside with all the fresh air, while still being comfortably inside). I was very happy with how the room ended up being set, even with no working christmas lights.
As for setting the table:
(2) Mason Jars with fresh flowers: beautiful pink and red daisies
(2) 3 tea light candle holders, as well as free standing tea light candles to line the entire table
(2) Larger candles at the ends of the middle of the table
2 Plate holder (top plate was our sedar plate, bottom plate held the matzah) in the middle of the two tables
Each table had their own charoset, celery, salt water, and smoked chickpeas (appetizer while going through the sedar)
Real plates + napkins, and plastic ups and plastic utensils that I can wash and save for the next time I host
And of course, lots of wine
Sedar plate: Orange, Tomato, a Lock, Celery, a scoop of charoset & a beet (check out the Haggadah for what these all mean!)
Printing the Haggadah: make sure you or someone you know has a printer and can print the Haggadah. Don’t mean to waste the paper, but I truly could not imagine having people stare at their phones (never in a million years). To make it sustainable, I plan to bring out Haggadah’s and laminate them, and save them for year to year.
Parking: I encouraged my guests not to drive if they were going to drink, but for those who did want to drive, I was able to register guest spots from the City of Santa Monica since parking is permit required on my street. Make sure if you’re hosting, your guests will be able to park otherwise it creates a hassle before the night has even started for them and that’s not the mindset you want your guests to walk into dinner with
Communicate & Set the tone: If you’re relaxed, your guests will be relaxed. If you’re joyful, they’ll be joyful. I send emails before the dinner always so people know a little bit of what to expect. Call people. Text people. Make sure people are excited by showing how excited YOU are- if you show how much it means to you, it will mean something to them. I was so happy to see everyone taking the sedar so seriously, but I realized it’s because I set the tone that this was an important and special night.
The night was so beautiful, and honestly a dream come true. It meant so much to me to be able to share last night with every single person who was there… each person who came who was invited by myself or another was extremely intentional and arrived so open and conducted themselves with so much respect and love (and I recommend thinking about and being intentional with who you invite for such an intimate dining experience) and it really was perfect. The double table looks long (and it was) but it also was very intimate and small. I am growing more confident in my ability to create atmospheres conducive for the special kind of interactions I value so much; so I walk away now looking forward towards a meaningful Passover week (celebrations don’t stop here) and towards a future with many more opportunities to host.
Although I never did Shabbat growing up, the past few years of Friday night dinners have inspired me and filled my life with so much joy. I’ve grown to love creating experiences for people to connect and tune in, and it makes me feel a warm sense of family that I really crave. So I am so grateful for everyone who came and will come in the future as I continue to create these experiences for myself and others.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out and let me know 🙂 Happy passover! To freedom.
Jewish Vegetarian Society: Your Guide to a Plant-based Passover <– I actually didn’t get a chance to look through it before I did my own but this is amazing!! Their posts are wonderful and I had the pleasure of meeting Lara, the director, at a Jewish vegan conference back in February.
Learning to Fly The Kabbalah Centre
Eliminating Chaos from Our Lives The Kabbalah Centre
Little few second video of everyone connecting! IMG_9918-1