For a "Cheat Sheet" with a summary of S&P customs at the Seder, click here.

The Haggadah

The Seder service, conducted at home around the table on the first night of Passover, is surely the Jewish family occasion par excellence. It is an opportunity not to be missed to strengthen bonds both within the family unit and with the Almighty. It should be a wonderful occasion in every respect - including its music, which should be inclusive and memorable. My own children belt out with gusto the same tune for Had Gadya that I fondly recall my extended family belting out with gusto around my parents' table when I was a child.

Although there is no recorded S&P tradition for the seder service per se, I have gathered together relevant melodies from other parts of the liturgy, and have also added some appropriate non-S&P material (clearly indicated of course!).

Kadesh Urehatz (Moroccan) [JC]

Note the correct pronunciation of the two words "Yahatz" (first syllable), and "Rohtza" (kamatz katan).

♫ Bekhol Dor & Ha Lahma Anya (Sarajevo) [EA]

Ma Nishtana (Sarajevo) [EA]

The Four Sons (Sarajevo) [EA]

Vehi Sheamda (Sarajevo) [EA]

♫ Dayenu

Al Ahat Kama (Sarajevo) [EA]

Bechol Dor Vador (Sarajevo) [EA]

Hallelu (Hallel, S&P) [JC] | ♫ Hallelu (Hallel, Sarajevo) [EA]

Unlike certain other Sephardim, the S&P do not repeat the four lines but say Hodu after each one, as a chorus.

Min Hametsar (Hallel) [JC]

Baruch Haba (Hallel) [JC]

Hodu (Hallel Hagadol) [JC]

Ve-ilu Finu [DJ]

Bemakhelot [JC]

Had Gadya (Sarajevo) [EA]

Had Gadya (Cochin) [JC]

This rousing melody was taught to my father as a child by his Cochini-Jewish nanny. The sound is very western. Since the origins of the Cochini community are with Portuguese Jewish immigrants to India some 400 years ago, it may actually be of S&P origin.

Had Gadya (Italy) [JC]

This "Italian" version has a had-gadya-like story of its own. Some years back the Italian singer Angelo Branduardi adapted Had Gadya into a modern folk song, "Alla fiera dell'est", that is still popular in Italy today. The goat of the Jewish version was replaced with a mouse. The song was imported to Israel to accompany a Passover mobile phone advertisement, and sung by mizrachi-rock singer Shlomi Shabat. Now Branduardi's tune comes full circle, and is adapted by me for singing the original Had Gadya words. I think it's particularly appropriate for Seder night, as the tune's structure is very similar to the S&P Lech Leshalom Geshem, which is sung the following morning.

♫ Had Gadya (Morocco)

The Synagogue Services


The evening service opens with the psalm for the festival, followed by a special tune for kaddish used only on the eves of the three pilgrim festivals: Succot, Pesah and Shavuot. (Well actually the first half is sung to the special tune, and from "Yehe Sheme..." onward the better known "Jack Sprat" tune is used.)

Kadish for the Eve of Festivals [JC]

Kadish for the Eve of Festivals [HB]


Hallelu (Hallel, S&P) [JC]

Baruch Haba (Hallel) [JC]

The Prayer for Dew

This collection of short piyutim is sung during Musaf, when we officially stop praying for rain in the Amidah, and ask instead for dew. The S&P insert the prayers into the reader's repetition of the Amidah (which would seem to be their intended location), while in many other Sephardi communities, as in Ashkenazi communities, they are sung separately before the start of the Amidah. The recitative for the Amidah itself is changed, and serves to accentuate the change, and introduce the first of the hymns.

Shezufat Shemesh

Mivtach Kol Hayetzur (same melody as Shezufat Shemesh)

Leshoni Bonanta

Lech Leshalom Geshem

The similarity of this last melody with the opening of Israel's National Anthem has been noted, though it certainly predates Hatikvah.

For more details, and the full Hebrew and English texts, see the Prayer for Dew page.

En Kelohenu (first day)

On Pesah this is sung to the tune of Lech Leshalom Geshem.

En Kelohenu (last day)

On the last day it's sung to the plaintive melody known as "La Despedida" (the departure).

Counting the Omer

From the second day of Passover until the day before Shavuot, the Omer is counted each evening. Special Omer boards are hung up in synagogue, many of them are very old, and some with beautiful illuminations. This is a fairly basic Omer board I made a few years ago, based on the traditional S&P synagogue boards. It is interesting to note that they scroll differently to the more ubiquitous Ashkenazi counters - horizontally instead of vertically. H, D and S stand for the Spanish words Hoi (today is...), Semaines (weeks) and Dies (days).

The blessing is sung to the same chant as the blessing for Hallel:

Counting the Omer

Although the Psalm "Lamnatseah", immediately following the counting of the Omer, is hurried through somewhat in London, the following tune is used for it on other occasions (such as before Minha), and is perfectly suited to being used in this context. It is indeed used for this purpose in New York and Amsterdam.

Lamnasteah [SP250]

The picture at the top of this page is from the famous Rylands Haggadah.