The Dave Savage Haggadah

The Dave Savage Haggadah

Dave Savage’s Passover Seder Haggadah 2015
Seder plate
Seder plate

Orientation  (read on your own)

At our Seder we will once again celebrate the going out from the historical Egypt. It is interesting to note that the word Egypt when translated from Hebrew, means “narrow.”
The Passover story can therefore be seen as another metaphor that helps us to focus on how to fulfill our individual promise as well as that of the Jewish people.  The story can be told not just about some ancient liberation, it is about our personal liberation as well.  And in the story of the Exodus be reminded that there were times when the Jews didn’t want to leave Egypt for liberation because they were afraid. They felt that what they had may be better than what they didn’t know might happen.
And so, The story of the Exodus can serve as an alert to every individual to think, “is it possible that I may be in a rut, similar to those enslaved people, and fail to recognize it?” What Egypt, what tight spot, do I need to leave this year?  …..The truest indication that we are in fact coming out of the narrow place is when we begin to appreciate our own complexity, the ways in which we do not live up to one narrow set of standards, and to appreciate the same in others as well.”
In life, we will always be facing difficult decisions, loss, as well as opportunities for continued growth. Egypt is not a place that we leave once; it is a place we perpetually leave.
“What Egypt, what tight spot, do I need to leave this year?  What buds & sprouts of change do I see
in myself and in the world around me?”  We come together to ask these questions of each other and ourselves.

Let us begin.,.


While we will follow many of the traditional Seder rituals tonight, you should know that the style, readings, songs, and discussions at a Seder are as different as the people who create them, and usually reflect the kind of Judaism and cultural heritage of those putting on the program. There are Seders that focus on particular themes stimulated by the Exodus Story. There are Seders that focus on women, the ecology, freedom, and current examples of people around the world searching for freedom and on their own exodus journeys.

We are going to share the readings tonight, as is the tradition at many Seders. You may read or pass, as you like. Children are invited to take their turns with the readings and parents should assist with pronunciations as needed.  Don’t read aloud the parts in parentheses. It is our custom to stop the seder, with a raised hand, to ask questions, challenge what is being said with thoughtful reasoning, add new traditions and contribute to the answers and experiences given by others.

We begin our Seder with a song  ♫  Repeat  3 times

HEVENU SHALOM ALEICHEM “Let there be peace.”Hevenu Shalom Aleichem  (Heh vay new  Sha loam  Ah lay chem.)

Hevenu Shalom, Shalom, Shalom Aleichem

next reader – Candle lighting

We light these candles as a symbol of the love, courage and tradition that have sustained the Jewish people.

The light of Passover is the light of freedom. Our ancestors suffered in the darkness of slavery and dreamed of their liberty. Others around the world will struggle today, and for many tomorrows.

May this light shine into the dark corners of the earth.

May it be the light of reason and hope and inspire us to heal our world.

May they blaze the message of liberation and be a signal for the coming of freedom for all humanity.

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The Passover Seder is one of the most important celebrations of the Jewish calendar. It provides a setting of family love and unity that helps us rededicate ourselves to the ideals of freedom and dignity. One of the reasons we conduct a Seder is to remind us of our rich heritage and the sacrifices of our ancestors and those who struggle for freedom of their own around the world.

It’s by this kind of observance that we transfer history, ethics and morals to our children. The common thread in all Seder services is the telling of the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt to a new life. We are to imagine ourselves back in time as we visualize our experiences on the journey across the wilderness.

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The word Seder means order or arrangement. The Seder is the order in which we tell the Passover story. This booklet is called a Haggadah, which means to tell. It provides the words by which we tell and share the Passover saga.

The ritual for the occasion requires the use of certain symbolic foods.

Each one represents a part of what we are remembering tonight.


During this evening we will learn a little about the Passover ceremonial items. There is a much more to be learned about the history, meaning, interpretation, and significance of each one.

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The Passover Haggadah demands that each person see him or herself as having personally come forth out of Egypt. Accordingly, the seder is one of the most sensory-heavy  rituals of the Jewish year. During the seder, we don’t just tell the story of the Exodus, we see, smell, feel, and taste liberation.

Many of the elements of this sensory experience appear on the seder plate (k’arah), which serves as the centerpiece of the seder table. The seder plate traditionally holds five or six items, each of which symbolizes a part (or multiple parts) of the Passover story:

Karpas–a green vegetable, most often parsley. Karpas represents the initial flourishing of the Israelites during the first years in Egypt. At the end of the biblical book of Genesis, Joseph moves his family to Egypt, where he becomes the second-in-command to Pharaoh. Protected by Joseph’s exalted status, the family lives safely for several generations and proliferate greatly, becoming a great nation. The size of this growing population frightens the new Pharaoh, who enslaves the Israelites, lest they make war on Egypt. Even under slave conditions, the Israelites continue to reproduce, and Pharaoh eventually decrees that all baby boys be killed. In the course of the seder, we dip the karpas in salt water (Ashkenazi custom) or vinegar (Sephardi custom) in order to taste both the hope of new birth and the tears that the Israelite slaves shed over their condition.

Some Ashkenazi Jews use a potato for karpas, as green vegetables were not readily available in Eastern Europe.

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–This mix of fruits, wine or honey, and nuts symbolizes the mortar that the Israelite slaves used to construct buildings for Pharaoh. The name itself comes from the Hebrew word cheres or clay. Ashkenazi Jews generally include apples in haroset, a nod to the midrashic tradition that the Israelite women would go into the fields and seduce their husbands under the apple trees, in defiance of the Egyptian attempts to prevent reproduction by separating men and women.

Sephardic recipes for haroset allude to this fertility symbolism by including fruits, such as dates and figs, mentioned in Song of Songs, the biblical book that is most infused with images of love and sexuality.

Maror–This bitter herb allows us to taste the bitterness of slavery. Today, most Jews use horseradish as maror. Originally, though, maror was probably a bitter lettuce, such as romaine, or a root, such as chicory. Like life in Egypt, these lettuces and roots taste sweet when one first bites into them, but then become bitter as one eats more. We dip maror into harosetin order to associate the bitterness of slavery with the work that caused so much of this bitterness.

Hazeret–A second bitter herb is used by some people for the Hillel sandwich. Others use the same vegetable for both parts of the seder, and do not include hazeret on the seder plate at all. Many Jews use horseradish for maror and romaine lettuce or another bitter green for hazeret.
The bitter and the sweet together, such is life.  Rabbi Hillel was a wise teacher whose most famous saying is this call to conscience “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  But if I am only for myself, what am I?”Why Rabbi Hillel is connected to this “sandwich” has been lost in time.

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Z’roa–A roasted lamb shank bone that symbolizes the lamb that Jews sacrificed as the special Passover offering when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. The z’roa does not play an active role in the seder, but serves as a visual reminder of the sacrifice that the Israelites offered immediately before leaving Egypt and that Jews continued to offer until the destruction of the Temple. Vegetarians often substitute a roasted beet, both because the red of the beet resembles the blood of the sacrifice and because the Talmud mentions beets as one of the vegetables sometimes dipped during the seder.

Beitzah–A roasted egg that symbolizes the hagigah sacrifice, which would be offered on every holiday (including Passover) when the Temple stood. The roundness of the egg also represents the cycle of life–even in the most painful of times, there is always hope for a new beginning.

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We have come together this evening for many reasons. We value the retelling of this story of the quest and journey toward freedom. We are here because many centuries ago, at this time of year, our ancestors left Egypt to search for a future of dignity and opportunity. We are here because it is important to remind ourselves that the yearning for freedom still goes on in all corners of the world.

Let us all sing together –      Hinnay Matov   (multiple translations)
“Behold how good and pleasant it is for us to dwell together in unity – peace
“What a wonderful time it is for brothers and sisters to be together in joy and in peace.”
There are many melodic interpretations of the song in both fast and slow tempos







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First Cup of Wine

On this night, long ago, our people heard the call of liberation. Tonight we sound that call again. With this first cup of wine let us champion the cause of those who are oppressed – as we were oppressed. Let us join our efforts with those who work for peace and freedom throughout the world.

Behold this cup of wine. Let it be a symbol sweetness of our freedom. We drink to L’Chaim, to life, and dedicate ourselves to helping those who can not help themselves.

As assigned -THE FOUR QUESTIONS – (or 4 parts of one question)

It is common that the youngest children at the Seder, who understands what is going on, ask the questions)

This 4 questions chant, in Hebrew, is one of the strongest of Passover traditions around the world


Why is this night different from all other nights?



On all other nights we can eat either leavened or unleavened bread;

Why on this night do we eat only matza?



On all other nights we can eat all types of herbs; Why on this night do we also eat  bitter herbs?



On all other nights we usually do not dip our herbs in each other even once.

Why on this night do we dip them twice?



On all other nights we can eat sitting up or reclining;  Why on this night can we all recline?

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Why is this night different from all other nights?

Because it is important to remember our history and our roots. Once a year we take time to retell the stories to the next generations. From the stories we gain a sense of connection and learn about our successes and failures as a group. We draw inspiration from our heroes and remember those who sacrificed so much to help us get to where we are today. It is a time to discuss and pass on important values like freedom, responsibility and the price that must be continually paid to protect and maintain a free, accepting and open society. And, it is important to gather together to have fun and create happy memories

for the future.

Why do we eat only matza tonight and not leavened bread?

Legend tells us that the Jews left Egypt is such haste they did not have time to add the yeast to the flour they brought with them. The plain flour and water mixture baked into flat crackers rather than their usual bread. We eat matza to remind ourselves that this was the staff of life for much of their journey to a new land.

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Why do we eat bitter herbs ?

Maror reminds us of the bitterness of slavery. We force ourselves to symbolically feel some of the discomfort of those in bondage and suffering. With this memory, freedom is far more valued and savored. Scholars also tell us that some people ate bitter herbs at the beginning of a meal to have the remainder taste better in comparison.

Why do we dip our herbs twice tonight?

Many centuries ago, it was customary in Jerusalem to begin a meal by dipping vegetables in salt water, to clean and flavor them. Today, these greens represent the growth of springtime, the return of bloom to the earth, and the renewal of our spirits. We temper our celebration by dipping the greens in salt water to remind us of the tears of our people who were denied the freedom to practice their religion and traditions.

This dipping of foods into salt water is part of a tradition of mixing celebration with remembrance and goes back to the belief that God may take away some of your joy and give you troubles if you are only concerned with your own welfare. Like many other traditions and rituals, some of the things we do tonight have been adapted from other cultures and from one year to the next to bring significance and relevance to our exodus story.

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(Put a bit of horseradish & sweet charoset between small pieces of matza.)

We now do our second dipping, mentioned in the four questions –  maror and charoset mixed together, in the form of a Hillel sandwich. The bitter and the sweet together, such is life.  Rabbi Hillel was a wise teacher whose most famous saying is this call to conscience “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  But if I am only for myself, what am I?”  Why Rabbi Hillel is connected to this “sandwich” has been lost in time.

Why do we recline at the table?

Because reclining at feasts was a sign of a free people in ancient times. Royalty often had special lounge chairs for feasts. By leaning a little tonight, we increase the feeling of being free and prosperous.

We work towards the time when everyone can share this experience.

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The tale of our people’s quest for freedom was written so long ago that no one is certain how much of it is fact, and how much is fiction. Like all good stories, it provides us with insights valid for every generation.

The beginning of the answer to these questions lies in the story of Moses and the rebellion of the ancient Hebrews against their oppression. The story says that Moses was born during a time of tyranny in Egypt. His people were slaves and were suffering.

Pharaoh, the title of the Egyptian king, worried that the growing population of Hebrew slaves might pose a threat to his rule. So he ordered that every newborn Hebrew male be murdered. But people resisted his order, including the Egyptian midwives. They are some of the heroic women in the story. Moses escaped the Pharaoh’s order when his mother hid him in a reed basket and set the basket afloat on the Nile River.

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The baby Moses was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who took him to the palace and raised him as her own son. She called for one of the Hebrew women to be his nurse: It was Moses’ real mother who secretly came to care for the Egyptian prince and made him aware of his Hebrew heritage.

When Moses was a young man he wanted to see the condition of his people so he went to the brickyards where some of them were working. He saw an Egyptian boss beating a Hebrew slave. Moses was a powerful young man. In his anger, he struck the boss, killing him. After realizing that someone from the palace might have seen him, he fled the Royal court and went to Midian.

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He started a new life, married and spent some years tending the flocks of his wife’s father. The memory of his suffering people bothered him terribly. The legend tells us that Moses saw a burning bush and heard voices commanding him to return to Egypt to save his people.

Moses had a difficult time convincing his people that they could escape from the Pharaoh. In the spring of the year, during a traditional festivals time, Moses was able to arouse their sense of rebellion and their commitment to follow him. During this festivals time, the Hebrews usually ate a spring lamb or kid (goat). The Hebrews marked the door posts of their homes with lamb’s blood for God’s protection.

Leader: While the first 2 verses are traditional, succeeding verses are often very different. The slaves of America often sang their own variations of this song Please join in singing this variation.

When Israel was in Egypt land


Oppressed so hard they could not stand


Go down, Moses

Way down in Egypt’s land

Tell old Pharaoh


Oh let us from all bondage flee


We long to have our people free


Go down, Moses

Way down in Egypt’s land

Tell old Pharaoh


Tyrants come in every age


May all be free from oppressions cage.


Go down, Moses

Way down in Egypt’s land

Tell old Pharaoh



And now, on with the story.


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Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against Moses’ words, and the story says that after series of plagues befell the land and the Egyptian people, Pharaoh relented and agreed to let the Hebrews go. And go they did, in great haste, lest he change his mind.


At Passover, we remember the ten plagues and are called upon to lessen our joy by removing a bit of wine from our cup as we name each plague. The cup of wine is a symbol of joy, but it cannot be truly full while others are suffering. The Egyptian plagues are: blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and death of the first born.



At our Seder, we can also think about the horrible plagues that afflict our own generation, and pledge to work to rid the world of them. Let us say these and drip a bit of wine for each plague from your cup to your plate.


OPPRESSION,  BIGOTRY,  GENOCIDE  (and the 10th plague is up to you – say it in silence).


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The story of the escape from Egypt continues with the story of the parting of the Red Sea. Many scholars now believe that the Jews escaped across the marshes of the Reed Sea, an inlet of the Red Sea and what is now called the Persian Gulf.  The passage was opened by the tide.  Pharaoh did change his mind and sent his army to bring back the Jews. The story again suggests that we temper our joy with the knowledge that others died in the process of our escape.


The journey was full of misery & hunger. Most of the people had not expected freedom to be so difficult. They had few possessions and a long journey. They also had a slave attitude and were not familiar with freedom. Many turned against Moses and demanded that he return them to the limited life they were familiar with.
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Moses led a people unprepared for the challenges of freedom and self government. As slaves, they had been fed and clothed and sheltered. Now they were cast into the wilderness to fend for themselves, and they were greatly frightened.


Our ancestors’ quest for freedom was long and difficult. Their courage faltered many times, yet they did not return to Egypt. Moses led his people around the desert for 40 years, says the story, until the people had shed their slave mentality and were ready to enter the “promised” land of freedom and opportunity.


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The definitions and concepts of the words freedom and peace are as varied as the definition and concept of the word God. For some, it is the right of everyone in the community to seek personal and religious happiness in their own way. For others it is the escape from one group’s harsh rules so that you can create their own set of rules. The Taleban sought freedom from the Russian’s rule, so that they could set up their own version of peace and freedom.  Freedom fighters seldom set up free and open societies as we know them today.   We should ask, what are the details of the world do they envision and what kind of laws and people will be in charge of molding the society?
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SECOND CUP OF WINE  (Have the wine or juice refilled into your cup as needed)

The fate of every Jew is bound up with the fate of the Jewish people and the destiny of the Jewish people cannot be separated from the destiny of all humanity. We are a world people, living in many nations. Since no one of us can survive alone, we must learn to live together

Leader :  

Let us all lift our cups and say together:


We seek peace for Israel.         (Who’s version of peace do we desire?)

We seek peace for all nations.  (When our definition of peace does not match the peace of a ruler, what shall we do?)

We seek peace for all people.  (What is our responsibility to aid and defend others who are ruled by a modern Pharaoh?)

Praised are those who work to bring peace and the sweetness of the fruit of the wine.  Amen



 ♪ DAH YAY NU ♫  – “It would have been enough.”

One of the traditional songs of Passover, “Diayenu,” gives thanks for each step along the road to freedom in the promised land. We sing “It would have been enough” to have been freed from slavery, even if nothing more was given. We can sing Dayenu to celebrate each step we take toward liberation as if it were enough, and then start out on the next step. We say today that all these gifts are not enough unless we apply the lessons to our daily lives. The freedom struggle continues and there are many wrongs we must right before we can be fully satisfied.


Everyone join in song. (We will sing just the Chorus – There are many variations of tongue twisting verses.)










DY DY AY-NOO, DY-AY-NOO  … repeat last 2 lines  x2

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THIRD CUP OF WINE  (please refill & raise your cups)

Let us drink this toast to those who move from intent to action in making this a better world. And may we drink to all of the negotiators who spend countless days traveling the world, away from their families, to find a way for people to live in peace. Amen – (drink up)



We have listened to the Passover story and we have tasted the special foods of this celebration. Before we begin our feast, let us set aside the first of these symbols to be the final food of the Passover supper. Let us resolve to make the taste of matza the final taste of our festivals meal. In that way we shall remember why we have gathered together and what we are celebrating.

I take the middle matza, break it in half and return it under the cover. During the meal, this other half will magically disappear. When we resume the Seder the children will search for the missing piece. There will be a small reward for those who search and the one who finds the AFIKOMEN, because we can’t complete the Seder without it.

Leader  ♪  THE BALLAD OF THE 4 SONS (Sing along to the tune of “Clementine”)  ♫

Tonight is a time for questioning and teaching the next generations. An old Jewish story tells the story of 4 sons,
each of whom have different ideas about Passover. We have changed the words a bit and put it in the form of a song.

Said the father to his children

“At the seder you will dine,

You will eat your fill of matza

You will drink four cups of wine.”

Now this father had no daughters

but his sons they numbered four.

One was wise and one was wicked,

one was simple and would learn more.

And the fourth was sweet and winsome,

He was young and he was small.

While his bothers asked the questions,

he could scarcely speak at all.

Said the wise son to his father,

“Would you please explain the laws?”

Of the customs of the Seder

Would you please explain the cause?”

And the father proudly answered,

“As our people ate in speed

ate the Pascal lamb near midnight

and from slavery were freed.

So we follow their example

and by midnight must complete,

all the Seder and we should not

after twelve remain to eat.

Then did sneer the son so wicked

“What does all this mean to you?”

And the father’s voice was bitter,

As his grief and anger grew.

“If yourself you don’t consider

As a son of Yis-ra-el,

Then for you this has no meaning,

You could be a slave as well.”

Then the simple son said softly,

“What is this” and quietly

the good father told his offspring

“We were freed from slavery.”

But the youngest son was silent,

He could barely speak at all.

His young eyes were bright with wonder,

as his father told them all.

Now dear children, heed the lesson

and remember evermore,

What the father told his children,

Told his sons that numbered four.

Leader organizes the Ceremonial hand washing – LAV


  Afikomen Hunt – House traditions.  What was the tradition in your home?  Share the story..
In some traditions the children keep the reward and in others a charity is selected.

   In some traditions the children do the hiding and the adults look for it.



The Cup’s of Elijah and Miriam

At this time, we welcome the “spirit” of  Elijah the prophet and we place a cup of wine on the table symbolically for him. Our best hopes for humanity have long been centered around Elijah the prophet, also called Eliyahu (El ee ya hoo). Jewish tradition has attributed to him countless legends of diverse times and places. Most stories center around Elijah coming to announce the time when we learn how to create peace and plenty for the whole world. But he will only come when we have prepared the way by demonstrating that we can live together in harmony. The myth is that when Elijah comes he will solve our great mysteries and confusions.

We also have another Seder tradition that has been gaining popularity – Miriam’s cup.

Miriam’s cup is full of water.

Miriam’s life is a contrast to the life of Elijah, and both teach us important lessons. Elijah was a hermit, who spent part of his life alone in the desert. He was a prophet, often very critical of the Jewish people, and focused on the messianic era and what was needed to create a better world to come.

On the other hand, Miriam was a respected leader who comforted the Israelites throughout their long journey, encouraging them when they lost hope.

Therefore, Elijah’s cup is a symbol of the future, while Miriam’s cup is a symbol of hope and renewal in the present life. We must achieve balance in our own lives, not only preparing for what is yet to come, but rejuvenating our spirits in the present. Thus, we need both Elijah’s cup and Miriam’s cup at our Seder table.

The cup of Miriam is water, the cup of life that sustains us on our personal journeys.  We open the doors of our house and hearts to welcome the spirit of Elijah and Miriam.

CHAD GAHD YA  ♫  –  (a traditional Passover parable song)

Passover is the festival of life and  Jewish survival. Against the fury of many foes the Jewish people have survived.

No enemy can stamp out a tradition and history that is so resilient.

CHAD GAHD YA is a metaphor for the name of the little goat of Israel which others have sought to devour.

But in the end, they themselves have been devoured. (each verse is sung a little faster than the one before – start out slow)



My father bought for two zuzim.


Then came a cat and chased the kid
My father bought for two zuzim.


Then came a dog and bit the cat

That chased the kid

My father bought for two zuzim.


Then came a stick and hit the dog

that bit the cat that chased the kid

My father bought for two zuzim.


Then came the fire and burned the stick

That hit the dog that bit the cat

That chased the kid

My father bought for two zuzim.


Then came the water that quenched the fire

That burned the stick

That hit the dog

That bit the cat

That chased the kid

My father bought for two zuzim.


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Let us drink this fourth cup of wine in memory of those who have risked and sacrificed their lives to bring us the freedom we have today. We each need to think about what it would take for us to step forward and put our lives on the line for the convictions and values we profess to hold dear.


We raise the last cup of wine and affirm our unity with all people in the
struggles for freedom around the world.

May slavery give way to freedom.
May hate give way to love.
May ignorance give way to wisdom.
May despair give way to hope.
Next year, at this time, may everyone, everywhere, be free!

Let us conclude our journey with a song.  ♪  Shalom Cha Vay Reem ♫ – Farewell friends, till we meet again

Shalom cha-vay-reem, Shalom cha-vay-reem,

Shalom, shalom,  L’hit-ra-ot, l’hit ra-ot, Shalom, Shalom


Time for Cleaning up

You may keep this Haggadah as a reminder of our time together.

Each year it is revised.  You can also contact Dave to get a digital version to use and share.

Dave Savage is co-author of Heartfelt Memorial Services – Your Guide for Planning Meaningful Funerals, Celebrations of Life, and Times of Remembrance. The book and website includes creative ideas and materials to help families share and record their stories, history, traditions, talents and personalities – A priceless gift to current and future generations. Dave has led many interfaith community Seders through Northwest Unitarian Congregation and for 13 years with Congregation Kol Chaim, that had a people centered approach to Jewish traditions. Dave is also an avid landscape and vegetable gardener, mentor at the inventors association and editor of the Good Stuff from Dave newsletter – with handy and fun ideas and resources for families and business. – ideas, advice, resources and connections for families and the professionals who provide advice and services to them, on end of life journeys.

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