By Laura Seymour
Purim has just ended and it is time to get ready for Passover. Hearing those words gets some people excited and some people frantic! There are also two aspects of the holiday that get you either excited or frantic — maybe all the feelings at the same time!
First, the food — very important! The rush to the stores for all the traditional items and the new ones began before the reading of the Megillah was even finished. For some, this is food for the Seder only and for many of us, the big question is, what will we eat all week? (Many of you know that for me it is all about having enough kosher for Passover Diet Coke — we all have our things!) Every year there are new kosher for Passover items and new recipes to try so go for it!
Second and most important to me is, what will happen at the Seder beyond the food — what Haggadah will we use this week, what additional questions will we ask, how will “this night be different from other nights?” This is the experience that goes beyond the food. Every year I look for new Haggadot and here are two I’ve been looking at (and I am sure there will be more). “The New Traditional Egalitarian Passover Haggadah” by Leona S. Green — the title alone makes it sound interesting! Traditional means that it does include the major parts, but the commentary is different and that is where the learning takes place! These past few months I have been preparing and teaching (really facilitating a fantastic conversation) on the history of the comic book and superheroes. The Jewish connection is amazing. This led to graphic novels (the Jews were involved here as well) and so I am recommending the “Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel” published by Koren Publishers. It will be a favorite for kids, teens and anyone who loves graphic novels and comic books. AND it has the full Haggadah!
Most families pick one Haggadah and everyone uses it. Our family puts out a multitude of Haggadot and we skip around reading sections from each. It definitely means lots of conversation and, of course, some grumbling about when do we get to the food. Sprinkled into the reading are trivia questions and a little “Jew-Pardy” type questions.
One thing that all families experience at the Seder is that each year there are new people who come, children of varying ages who move to the next age and in general the changes in our world that become the topic of freedom, which is the basic message of Passover. Yes, we have weeks before the big night but the preparation is part of the experience whether you kasher your house or not, whether your Seder lasts 30 minutes or hours. According to the Jewish statistics, a Passover Seder is one of the most celebrated rituals for American Jews. There are many reasons for this but the most important is that Passover happens with family, friends and usually at home or together in some way. This means that you are in charge of your family’s experience — get everyone into the process. Give out roles to play, questions to have ready, food to bring (my dearest friend is always asked to bring the salt water and the Seder would not be the same without her salt water).
Get ready and watch for more Passover suggestions as we get closer.
Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.