Wishing you a happy and kosher Passover
Ideas to Enhance Your Seder by Rabbi Annie Tucker
1. Get Creative – At the start of the Seder have everyone pick a card which has three words on it – two of which are closely related to Pesach and the third of which is a little random. The goal is for participants to ask a question or to say a sentence at some point during the night using all three of their words without getting caught. A person wins if a full minute passes after using the word without being accused of completing the task.
-matzah, noodles, jump
-sea, staff, electricity
-pharaoh, hail, slippers
-freedom, slave, garden
-charoset, haggadah, stairs
-wine, four, radio
-thank, dayenu, maze
-sons, questions, airport
-sandwich, bitter, umbrella
-sing, praise, feather.
2. Get in Character – For the Maggid (telling) part of the seder, select a few designated guests to imagine themselves as a particular character in the Passover story (Miriam, Pharaoh, an Israelite slave, etc.). Other participants can ask questions to learn more about their experience in Egypt such as:
-Do you believe the Israelites will actually make it to freedom?
-If you could say one thing to Moses, what would it be?
-What special things are you bringing with you as leave home?
-What did the Sea of Reeds look like when it parted?
3. Stand with Refugees – Print out a Seder supplement from HIAS and hold in solidarity with current-day immigrants and refugees on this holiday that recalls our own painful experiences in a land not our own: www.hias.org/passover2016.
4. Puzzle It Up – Visit the website edubakery.com/Bingo-Cards/Passover-Bingo-v1-Bingo-Cardsto create a Passover Bingo board to use around the Seder table (participants mark off items on their card when they hear that word mentioned in the Haggadah). Or, if your holiday observance allows for it, use the site to create Passover word-searches, crosswords, and other games to keep younger children occupied.
5. Make Charoset – Create a make your own charoset bar with lots of items to choose from: dates, figs, apples, coconut, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cherries, chocolate chips, mashed banana, craisins, raisins, mango, orange, strawberries, pomegranate, honey, cinnamon, spices, wine, grape juice, etc. Guests mix their own selections in preparation for the seder. Extra points if someone can explain how the items they chose teach us about slavery and freedom!
6. Connect the Dots – Prepare two bags, one which has a bunch of cards with Pesach-identified nouns (Moshe, charoset, liberation, Miriam, parsley, etc.) and the other which has cards with random items listed (the US Supreme Court, Nigeria, an iPhone, bananas, a rainbow flag, ice, etc.). Divide guests into teams of two to four players. Each team picks one card from each bag and then has a minute to come up with Six (or Fewer) Degrees of Sederation that connect the two. (For example: charoset and iPhone– Apple/apple in one!; parsley and Nigeria – Nigeria is in Africa where the Israelites experienced the terrible slavery of which dipping parsley in saltwater reminds us; etc.).
7. Act it Out –Use the following 10-minute Seder script to tell the Passover story rather than reading it word-for-word from the Haggadah: https://www.haggadot.com/clip/passover-play-ten-minute-script-all-ages.
8. Ask Important Questions – Based on the ancient Greek symposium, the seder was originally intended to be a great philosophical meditation on themes of justice and freedom. Spark discussion with some of the big questions listed here or create conversation starters of your own: https://labshul.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/sayder-fold-out.pdf.
9. Split the Sea – Engage young children before Seder night by making creative and topical centerpieces, name-cards, or other decorations including this one: https://www.creativejewishmom.com/2010/03/kids-crafts-for-pesach-krias-yam-suf-the-splitting-of-the-red-sea-diorama.html. You might also consider decorating the room in which seder is taking place in a special way (like an ancient Israelite tent with scarves and pillows on the floor, like the Red Sea with waters to cross through, etc.) and/or having the seder leader dress up for parts of the ritual.
10. Go Out of Order – Before the night begins, copy the tale of the Exodus (from the Haggadah or an online summary or a version you create) and cut the text into enough sections that each Seder guest receives one. Randomly distribute the pieces and then work as a group to put the story back in order – each person reading their text when appropriate – as you arrive at the Maggid (telling) part of the Seder.
11. Dip It Up – While it is traditional to dip a green vegetable like parsley into salt-water at the Karpas (Spring Greens) stage of the Seder, there’s no need to stop there! Getting creative with other kinds of dipped foods (vegetables into guacamole, bananas into chocolate, etc.) can stave off hunger pangs and prompt the very kind of spontaneous questions that are meant to be at the heart of the seder ritual.
12. Keep a List – Prior to the seder, write down the name of the person using each Haggadah in the book’s cover (this can immediately serve as a kind of place-card, with individuals walking around the table to find their designated Haggadah, and ultimately serves as an archive whereby each Haggadah contains a list of everyone who has ever used that book in the past). In years to come, begin the Seder by having everyone share the name of the person who used their Haggadah last year and naming one thing that they love about this person!
13. Fight for Freedom – Dedicate each of the four cups of wine to a different individual or organization working to end oppression and work for justice in our world. Consider having the afikoman “present” be a donation towards one of these important causes or using the Omer period (the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot) to engage in some kind of volunteer work that furthers these values.
14. Make It Personal – The Haggadah tells us that in each generation, every individual should feel as though he or she personally escaped from slavery. Thinking about the escape from Egypt as a personal journey, ask Seder participants what they are hoping to leave behind this year as we gather for Passover and where they hope to go in the coming year.