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The context: last year, I saw this sign that announced the time and place that a Jewish Seder (probably Yom Kippur) would happen. I was definitely curious and considered going and at least observing because as a Christian, my religion has Jewish roots. I ended up not going, mostly out of laziness (I'm a college student, after all), but also somewhat because I didn't know if it was appropriate for me, a Gentile, to observe or participate. Now Passover is coming up and I'm curious again - what is appropriate for me to do as a Gentile at a Seder?

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Another user wrote, in a now-deleted answer, that some consideration needs to be made by the host regarding the food. Assuming the food is cooked during yom tov then it is only permissible to cook food if the intended recipient is a Jew. To cook specifically for a non Jew is forbidden, because one is only allowed to cook what is necessary for the Yom Tov, and non-Jews don't have an obligation to celebrate the Yom Tov with a meal like Jews do. Although this was not a valid answer to the question, I thought the information is valuable for forming a full answer, and as food for thought (NPI). – Seth J Mar 13 '13 at 22:13
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28557 – msh210 May 8 '13 at 2:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

First, about Yom Kippur: A seder, and Passover, have nothing practical to do with Yom Kippur. Now to your question:

There's nothing wrong with a gentile's attending a seder. Obviously, it would be tactless to bring up Jesus's last supper, or any comparison with Easter. (Moreover, it would go directly against one of the main purposes of the seder, which is the Jewish education of Jews, especially of Jewish children. For the same reason, even though you may see them asking questions, you should save yours for another time, so as to allow them their night.)

That said, I suspect a number of Jews would be rather uncomfortable having a religious Christian, specifically, attending their seder, knowing that he's comparing it in his mind to Jesus's last supper. I doubt that that would apply to other gentiles' attendance.

Also, we're not allowed to invite (or, I think, expect) gentiles to attend a holiday meal. (Mishna B'rura 512:3.) If you show up unannounced, that's fine, but only if you show up after the food is all cooked. (MB :10.) What this means practically for you is that (a) you should show up unannounced. Make sure it's the house of someone you feel comfortable showing up at unannounced, of course. But, also, (b) you should show up after the food is all cooked. I don't know the particulars of this rule — it makes sense to me that you could show up while things are still simmering as long as the active part of the cooking is done, but I'm not sure that that's actually the rule — and you may get turned away at the door (or asked not to eat) for this reason: at a seder, the meal is after quite a bit of other goings-on. (Try not to be offended.)   However, my understanding (no source) is that this rule doesn't apply if the seder is Friday night: that we're allowed to invite gentiles to the meal in that case.

(Added in proof, so to speak: Others have pointed out in comments that at least some hold that one should not give matza to a gentile to eat. (Taz, OC 167:18. Thanks, Michoel and Fred!) So you'd not get a piece of the matza at the eating-matza parts of the seder.)

Another thing to bear in mind, though, is that a traditional seder is a good few hours long. I find it interesting and enjoyable, but you may find it boring, in part because much of the discussion (depending on the seder you attend) will assume some prior knowledge, whether of Judaism or of Hebrew, you may not have.

But most of this is just my opinion.

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What about eating the Afikoman? – Seth J Mar 13 '13 at 4:34
What about Shemos 12:48 I know it's not an actual korban that is being eaten. – Ariel Mar 13 '13 at 4:50
@Fred It's more helpful if you actually post what it says there. Perhaps as an answer, perhaps as a long comment. – Ariel Mar 13 '13 at 8:43
I'm guessing that the Yom Kippur thing might have been a break-fast, which to an outsider might look similar (big festive meal). – Monica Cellio Mar 13 '13 at 13:10

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a non-Jewish person attending a seder, if all of the food has been cooked in advance of Yom Tov. As stated above any prohibition that might exist has nothing to do with the seder per se, it has to do with restrictions about holiday preparations. There are a zillion reasons to mitigate this prohibition. Perhaps a nonJew should not eat the "afikoman" as this recalls the Passover sacrifice, which was only shared by Jews and non-Jews (and even some Jews) were not permitted to eat it.

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Beyond the first half of the first sentence, I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the question asked. – Seth J Apr 13 '14 at 3:10

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