If you’re not going to someone’s home for Passover (sundown April 14-22, 2014), consider one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s many communal Passover seders, where all are welcome. The week-long Jewish holiday celebrates both the spring harvest and the ancient Israelites' journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom. The seders, generally on the first and second nights, feature the telling of the story of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew). Symbolic foods are eaten, and songs are sung. You don’t have to know what charoset is and you don’t even have to be Jewish to attend, but it helps if you like matzoh.
Some San Francisco restaurants are cooking up Passover week specials. Executive chef Jeff Banker, who is Jewish, has tweaked his family recipes and is offering a prix fixe dinner ($55) of matzoh ball soup, braised brisket and chocolate truffle cake at Baker & Banker on April 14. On April 16 and 17, chef Joyce Goldstein is collaborating with Italian restaurant Perbacco on a four-course Passover dinner ($52 per person) with antipasti and desserts served family-style; entree choices include sea bass with rhubarb sauce, veal breast stuffed with peppers, and lamb stew with green garlic.
Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen’s seder dinners April 14-17 sold out more than a week beforehand, but as of April 8, there was a waiting list for the April 16 dinner (email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the wait list). Or order Passover foods and supplies from the deli in advance, and on April 14 and 15, pick up everything you need to celebrate at home, from a seder plate kit and mock chopped liver to braised brisket and coconut macaroons.
* PASSOVER SEDERS IN THE BAY AREA *
Passover Freedom Seder
April 10, at 6:30 pm
A multicultural seder that honors San Francisco’s diversity as an element that makes the city a promised land. Freedom-fighting songs and storytelling. Organized by the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and the Jewish Community Relations Council. At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco 94118. Tickets $15, 40.
Passover Seders for Young Children - Berkeley & Oakland
April 14, at 5-6:15 pm
These two seders cater to ages 2-7, although children of all ages are welcome. No Jewish knowledge or experience is necessary. Includes a kid-friendly, light meal, served picnic-style (so bring a blanket or pillow to sit on). At the Jewish Community Center East Bay Berkeley Branch, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley 94709, and Oakland Branch, 5811 Racine St., Oakland 94609. Tickets $15, 25.
First Night Community Seder
April 14, at 6:30 pm
Rabbi Batshir Torchio leads a seder night of great company, music and stories. Vegetarian and gluten-free food options (including gluten-free matzoh) are available. At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco 94118. Tickets free-$65.
Community Passover Seders - Berkeley & Oakland
April 14, at 7:30-9:30 pm
Lively seders with a full meal including matzoh ball soup, chicken and wine. At the Jewish Community Center East Bay Berkeley Branch, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley 94709, and Oakland Branch, 5811 Racine St., Oakland 94609. Tickets $20, 40, 60.
Communal Passover Seders
April 14 & 15, at 7:30 pm
A Passover meal with songs, humor and contemporary and Chassidic stories, led by Rabbi Gedalia Potash. At Chabad of Noe Valley, 3771 Cesar Chavez St., San Francisco 94110. Tickets Free-$36.
April 14 at 7:45 pm; and April 15 at 8:15 pm
Three-course dinner with salmon, chicken soup, beef brisket, hand-made matzoh and wine, songs and an “interactive telling” of the exodus tale. At Chabad of Cole Valley, 1336 Willard St., San Francisco 94117. Tickets $20,30.
Second Night Pesach Seder
April 15, at 6-9 pm
A “home made” seder led by cantor Sharon Bernstein and Susan Leff. All adults bring side dishes, At Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St., San Francisco 94103. Advance registration required. Tickets: $20, 30; plus bring an kosher-for-Passover dish to share. Info: email@example.com or (415) 861-6932.
Older Adult Passover Seder
April 17, at 11:30 am-1:30 pm
Music and a meal of matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish, salad, roasted chicken, matzoh kugel and wine. At the Jewish Community Center East Bay Berkeley Branch, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley 94709. Tickets $10, 13.
Older Adult Passover Luncheon
April 18, at 11 am–12:30 pm
Lunch with “a condensed, but powerful seder.” At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco 94118. Tickets $5, 8.
Shabbat Passover Celebration
April 18, at 4:30 pm
A Passover edition of the weekly celebration of Shabbat (the Sabbath), featuring the Mazel Tones and music, challah and Passover treats. All are welcome. At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco 94118. Free.