Idie Benjamin and Dale Cooperman
Soon, we will gather with family and friends, at a Pesah seder, where we will celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery. Many of us will reflect that Jews throughout the world from Alaska to Katmandu, are participating in a seder. We will marvel at being a part of Klah Yisrael, the people of Israel. Our children are a part of this family as well.
What (and who) is Israel? What probably first comes to mind is “Israel” the country, the historic homeland of the Jewish People. But “Israel” is more. There is Israel “the place,” and Israel, “the people.” The mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael, loving Israel, calls us to love both the land of Israel and Klal Yisrael, the people of Israel. Loving Israel links us to both the land and the people.
Idie Benjamin and Dale Sides Cooperman
In December, we wrote here (Seeing the Light: Hanukkah and Young Children) about being reflective in the way we teach and offering children authentic curricula that they are able to understand. We said, “…We want these young learners to know so much about each holiday, but in our desire to give children every opportunity and every bit of information, sometimes the train gets a little off track…”
A Pesah/Passover curriculum, unfortunately, is often one of these derailments.
by Laurie Bellet
The other day, I gave a group of early childhood teachers a wonderful way to make charoset dishes for Pesach. It involves using clay flower pots. The artist turns the pot upside down and designs the surface with tiles. Since it is upside down, the lip of the rim catches any tiles that might slip. When dry, you place a plastic drinking cup as an insert to hold the charoset so the clay mosaic, itself, never will need washing. It’s a format I have used for years, in many age ranges, and it always results in a happy ending. Nevertheless, the charoset dish was not what I was really teaching. The true lesson came before…
My puppets, so recently the residents of Shushan, were transformed into the Israelites in Egypt. As difficult it was for them, the puppets had to move bricks, one by one, to another site in the classroom while another puppet demanded that they move more quickly so that the structure they were building would get finished. Sadly, the puppets had a problem; the bricks would not stay firmly atop one another. This is where the charoset came into play.
In the classroom, following the drama and every child having a desired role (Our bricks always get moved to many construction sites!), each child receives a “building” in the form of a clay flower pot and with the tiles, or other desired mosaic materials builds a unique charoset dish.
There are so many things students can make for Pesach that it is too easy to get caught up in making the things as the goals, without a solid learning foundation for support. I am frequently asked for ideas that go beyond a Seder plate. Here are some ideas:
by Carol Starin
- Haroset Pyramids. I always make individual seder plates. It saves passing around a lot of stuff. This year, instead of the small scoop of haroset, I’m placing a haroset pyramid on each plate.
To make the mold: You can make a 3 or 4-sided pyramid. I’m doing 3 sides. Cut three identical triangles from a piece of cardboard. I use isosceles triangles—27/8” on the sides, 4 inches on the bottom. Completely wrap each triangle with aluminum foil and tape the three pieces together—to form a cone. Spray the inside of the cone with kosher-for-Pesah non-stick spray. Fill the ‘pyramid’ with a heavy haroset. (Sephardic recipe or the traditional recipe with the addition of some dried fruits.) Refrigerate and unmold when time to serve.
- Questions at the Seder. One of the goals of the seder is to motivate questions. Sometimes people are a bit reluctant to ask.
One way to get started is, in advance of the seder, to make a list of questions. Put each question on a separate card. Set a card under each person’s plate. At any point during the seder invite seder participants to ask “their” question.
- 15 Steps. Use your own foot to create a pattern of a foot. Make 15 “feet.” On each foot write the name of one step of the seder. Place the 15 steps in order on the floor beginning with the first step (kadesh) just as guests come through the door.
I think of this as an organizing set for what is to come. Guests and family will already have “walked through the 15 steps” by the time they open the Haggadah.
- Seder Mad-libs. Check out the Babaganewz website. They have a storehouse of Pesah ideas.
One of my favorites is their Pesah “mad-lib” called BabaMeisa. The madlib can be found here. If writing is part of your seder tradition, begin the seder by creating a group a mad-lib.
- Elijah’s Cup. When it’s time to fill Elijah’s cup, you might try one of the following*:
- Invite guests to pour wine from their own cup into Elijah’s cup and express a personal wish for the future.
- Pass out post-it notes and ask guests to write down the names of those people whom they wish could be present. Place the sticky notes on the plate that holds Elijah’s cup.
- Ask each guest to share something that has given them joy this year.
[*With thanks to Rabbi Phil Warmflash and The Jewish Outreach Partnership]
Have a wonderful holiday.
Hag Pesah kasher v’same’ah.
by Laurie Bellet
We have now entered into the time frame that I call “Pesah Panic” time. Pesah Panic Time is characterized by the number of calls and e-mails I get with the message, “I want to make Seder plates; How can I do it… in the next week?”
The clearest lesson here is that quality programming takes planning. Look ahead; map out your lessons; acquire materials; allow enough teaching time for the lesson, the project and the follow-up. That said, following are some cures for Pesah Panic time.