Passover is a holiday that should be custom-made for families. The major rituals are performed at home, around the dinner table. The story underlying the holiday is familiar, full of action, and complex enough to yield new lessons each time we revisit it. Our central task on the holiday is to relive this story in a way that’s meaningful for all generations present. And the holiday comes with a built-in instruction manual, the Haggadah. (Need a Haggadah? Download ours for free!) Why, then, do so many of us have memories of long, boring seders more reminiscent of the 40 years of wandering in the desert than the sweet taste of liberation from slavery we’re supposed to be celebrating?
Seders don’t have to be boring – in fact, they shouldn’t be boring at all! But making the most of your seder for you, your kids, and your guests might require some clever thinking and a little bit of prep work. That’s where this guide comes in.
We had been hearing about the wonderful interactive programming that Jodi Jarvis had been offering for families at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, where she was the director of early childhood and family life. And now we’re so pleased that she has joined Combined Jewish Philanthropies as director of families with young children and interfaith engagement. So when it came time to create a handbook for families who want to spice up their Passovers, we knew exactly whom to ask.
This guide is divided into 16 sections – one for each of the segments of the Haggadah, plus activities that can take place in preparation for the holiday and an appendix for more information. Don’t try to do all of these suggestions – if you do, your seder won’t end until Rosh Hashanah! But pick your favorites, experiment and have fun! And let us know how it went. We welcome feedback (and, if you have them, pictures!) at email@example.com.
David Levy is the marketing director of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. From 2010 to 2013, he was editor of JewishBoston.com.