Make Passover meaningful for children — and adults

Posted on 29 March 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Around this time of year, I’m frequently asked by parents for ideas about how to make Passover involving and engaging for children.

What strikes me as interesting, however, is that no one ever asks me for ideas about how to make Passover involving and engaging ideas for adults.

This is very important — the more involved parents are in Passover observances, the more likely children will follow in those footsteps. One way to increase involvement is through family traditions.

The Seymour family’s Pesach tradition is to have many haggadot on hand. Throughout the seder, different people share ideas from a different seder — and this creates a great deal of discussion. I’ve held the Tanach at previous seders; as the story of Passover is told, I find interesting tidbits to contribute.

For example, with this excerpt from Genesis 15:13-14:

“And He said to Abram, ‘Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years; but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end they shall go free with great wealth’.”

This leads to some interesting questions: Why does G-d tell Abram that we will be strangers? Why do we need to be enslaved? Do we need to suffer to learn gratitude? Can we teach gratitude without suffering?

Another favorite tradition in our extended family is “The Name Game,” such as learning about these important people in Moses’ life:

  • Moses’ parents: Yocheved and Amram
  • Moses’ siblings: Miriam and Aaron
  • Moses’ wife: Tziporah
  • Moses’ father-in-law: Jethro
  • Moses’ sons: Gershom and Eliezer
  • The two midwives: Shifrah and Puah

Then there are families who send preparation assignments to their guests; and the prepared guests can then teach what they’ve learned to other seder participants. Be careful with this, however — the point of the seder is not to force a guest to do something he or she doesn’t want to. Some people are more comfortable observing rather than as direct participants.

Another tradition is to discuss the events of the day, and discuss how the ancient passages we recite annually can be applied to those events. There are plenty out there; from the ultra-Orthodox Haredi of Israel to what’s going on with Iran. This is an exercise that is useful for older children (younger ones might be somewhat frightened), and it helps with their understanding of current events.

Hopefully these ideas will help as you, as adults, seek ways to increase your own involvement and engagement with Passover. And after this year’s seders come to an end, please share with me what you did so I can include them next year.

Laura Seymour, is director of Youth and Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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