On April 11, stars of stage and screen (Jews and non-Jews alike) gathered virtually for the Saturday Night Seder in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The holiday, which began on the eve of April 8, lasts eight days and commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Seder lasted one hour and commemorated stories (both serious and silly) of the Jewish people, of humanity’s constant quest for freedom, and the healing power of music.
It began: “3,000 years ago our Jewish ancestors fled their homes in search of a better life. Two weeks ago, some anxious Jews stuck inside our homes decided to put together a seder. We invited all our favorite people. Including you!”
The scripted seder was streamed live as a fundraiser for the CDC Foundation’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund, raising over $2.35 million during the stream and in the days after. You can still watch the full seder in the video above and donate here.
Hosted by Jason Alexander, Saturday Night Seder featured the opening number, “Dayenu” (with music and lyrics by Alex Fedlman, Hannah Friedman, Sam Friedman, Mark Sonnenblick, and Benj Pasek), Fran Drescher washing her hands to The Nanny theme song, Seder, and more memorable nods to Jewish pop culture.
The highlights of the evening included: Judith Light’s narration of the Jews' exodus from an anti-Semitic Europe as the inspiration for Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (which Ben Platt sang gorgeously); Debra Messing and Richard Kind’s yente-ish telling of the Passover story; Idina Menzel’s rendition of the traditional four questions or “ma nishtana”; Cynthia Erivo and Shoshana Bean’s jaw-dropping duet of “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt, accompanied by composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz; and the original finale number and message of hope “Next Year.”
The seder also welcomed appearances by Pamela Adlon, Reza Aslan, Skylar Astin, Mayim Bialik, Rachel Brosnahan, Rabbi Sharon Brous, D’Arcy Carden, Andy Cohen, Darren Criss, Billy Eichner, Beanie Feldstein, Harvey Fierstein, Tan France, Eliot Glazer, Ilana Glazer, Josh Groban, Julie Klausner, Nick Kroll, Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, Dan Levy, Camryn Manheim, Milo Manheim, Alan Menken, Bette Midler, Isaac Mizrahi, Busy Philipps, Billy Porter, Sarah Silverman, Michael Solomonov, Shaina Taub, Nina West, Henry Winkler, Finn Wolfhard, Rabbi David Wolpe, and Michael Zegen.
Saturday Night Seder was presented by StoryCourse, in association with Reboot, Erich Bergen, Rachel Sussman, and Rebecca Halperin. It was written by head writer Alex Feldman with writers Hannah Friedman, Sas Godlberg, Josh Harmon, Adam Kantor, Michael Mitnick, Mark Sonnenblick, and Benj Pasek.