The Pesach Seder: The Ultimate Interactive Experience

Posted on 03/26/2021 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: Jewish Schools & Educational Services

Passover Seder by Shraga Weil 1949

By Joy Schandler, Director of Early Childhood and Congregational Education

Whether you are having a seder involving early childhood, elementary, middle, high school students or empty nesters, or any combination thereof, making your seder interesting and interactive is a worthy and attainable goal. All you need is some inspiration, motivation, and time to prepare. 
The purpose of the seder is for us to retell the story of the Israelites’ journey from slavery to freedom and for us to feel as if we personally were delivered from slavery.
Seder means “order” and the seder is a celebratory dinner with an ordered set of rituals, foods, blessings and narrative. The more we engage with the process, the more we become invested in this beloved family holiday celebration.
Making the seder interactive and accessible starts with seder prep.

Before the Seder...

1- Engage your children, young or adult, and/or your guests in making the ritual food for the seder. Try making charoset and shaping it into a pyramid or into individual charoset balls. Jamie Geller has great recipes from around the world. Charoset Recipes from Jamie Geller
2- Making kosher matzah only takes 18 minutes! And it is so much fun poking holes into the dough before it bakes. Check out this wonderful video from PJ library, with easy step-by-step instructions. Make your own matzah
3- Have the artists in your family prepare table place cards. Adorn them with the names of the guests, some Passover symbols or personalize them to show something about each particular guest.
4- If you are hosting a virtual seder, or one in your own home, consider where the seder will take place. Will you be outside in lounge chairs, in the family room, the living room, or the dining room? Make sure you are comfortable and if you are using technology, be sure you have a good camera angle so your virtual guests feel close to the action.  
5- Prepare the seder plate incorporating traditional and new symbolic foods- such as oranges and beets. My Jewish Learning offers these explanations of the “why’s” and “how-to’s.” Foods on the Seder Plate
6- How many cups will you have on your seder table? Of course, 4 cups of wine and/or grape juice plus Elijah’s cup. What about Miriam’s Cup Miriam's Cup or Ruth’s Cup Ruth's Cup? These newer “traditions” are full of meaning and impact.  

During the Seder...

1- Asking your seder guests questions during the seder is one of the easiest and most satisfying ways to engage everyone. Ask some questions that can be answered by all ages, like: If you could be any item on the seder plate, what would it be and why? If you could substitute an item on the seder plate with something else, what would it be and why? If you were one of the Israelites leaving Egypt, tell us why you are leaving? Where are you going? What do you hope will happen to your people?
2- When I was in Hebrew high school and we were studying the Pesach narrative, my school director said to us, “Freedom is the right to choose your own slavery.”  We teens were flabbergasted! Then we thought about it and a lively discussion ensued. Ask your seder guests what this means to them.
3- Sing the Four Questions in different languages. Check out this video of a Solomon Schechter School 4 Questions around the world. Recite the questions using this guide from 4 Questions in Yiddush, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian and Korean
4- Connect the Pesach freedom story to other freedom stories, from the past and the present, from political or psychological landscapes.  The resources from B’echol Lashon Global Jews offers readings and profound questions for us to consider. Here is their beautiful narrative connecting us to the concept that we were once slaves. Avadim Hayinu- We Were Slaves
5- After we’ve eaten the afikoman, we recite Birkat haMazon, the series of blessings thanking G!d for our bounty. This is the perfect time to create your own blessings of gratitude as well. Go around the seder table and have everyone exclaim, “Thank you G!D for...” 
6- We end the seder with songs like the beloved “Chad Gadya- One Little Goat.” For the creatives and music lovers in the family, write your own Pesach song by using a familiar melody and writing your own lyrics. Divide up in teams and perform for each other. Make it more complex by requiring all songs include certain words like: seder, wine, haggadah, matzah, family, freedom, gratitude, and dayenu.  

Here are a few resources to check out for all your Passover questions and needs:
Spotify for Pesach soundtracks
YouTube for Pesach “How To” and music videos
 Chag Kasher v’Samayach!