I nearly called this post “Passover Carnival,” but was afraid you’d get the wrong idea. The wrong idea is a spree with lice races, chocolate matzah painting, origami frogs, and crafts.I’ve programmed all of those things at events (and they were fabulous), but this year I wanted something entirely different. No fluff. No games. No — gasp — no crafts! I wanted REAL and basic to the core, to the essence of a seder and of the whole holiday. And, it had to be FUN.
Last Sunday, our school held a Walk Through the Seder Steps program for preK through high school. We called it our “Grater Seder” because kids would grate their own maror and charoset, and because we hoped it would be Great. It was.
The Goal: to create hands-on, meaningful connections to the seder by walking through each step and completing a relevant activity. Each step is a station: a table staffed by a volunteer and set with at least one hands-on thing that invites participation so students experience highlights of that section.
Some steps were easy to plan: At Karpas we dipped and nibbled from a mini buffet of typical (and atypical but not unheard of) vegetables while saying the blessing. One teacher made a clip-art tally sheet so kids could record their favorite (parsley, celery, potato, potato chip, onion, banana). (Rabinically speaking, bananas are vegetables and merit the adamah blessing. I wrote about this for a Tu B’Shevat post.)
Some steps were a bit harder to plan. My Hallel station, in addition to some legit stuff added by my Director (she’s the real deal), included two tableaux meant to demonstrate that Hallel is where we open the door for Elijah. I made one Duplo house and one LEGO house so kids could sing Eliyahu haNavi and actually open a wee door for the itinerant prophet. (See the tableaux at their own post, here.)
Meanwhile, each student wears or carries a punch card that depicts the 15 steps in words and picture. When the student completes the brief activity at a station, the leader punches that particular step on the card, and gives the student a prize. The student continues until the punch card is full, and then takes the sack of weird prizes to the stage area to sort them into two take-home kits:
a Plague Kit and
a Bedikat Chametz Kit
The prizes happen to be ten plague toys and one feather, one candle, one wooden spoon and a blessings sheet. Volunteers make sure the students know what each prize is supposed to represent or do.
We also set up enrichment stations in the center of the room:
• Make Matzah in 18 minutes or less
• Grate Your Own Maror
• Grate Your Own Charoset
• Set the Seder Plate
• Make a Zeroa
• Roast a Beitzah
• the fabulously bloody Passover House (see post)
and mostly for the adults:
• Charoset Bar
We invited Nashville’s charoset maven to bring some gourmet platters for a Charoset Bar. These included Jamaican, Egyptian, Parisian, Greek, Kumquat charoset among others, and his homemade date honey: the honey of the Torah. Delicious.
I also invited the Rabbi to preside over a Haggadah table strewn with many different editions, including the one we use at synagogue seders. People could pause and chat, ask questions.
This was my biggest program so far, and might well be my last. So much fun, but so much work. It took a village to facilitate—and it was a beautiful sight to see so many people happy and helping—but all the planning and prep was done by three people. I must have spent hundreds of volunteer hours on this and I am beat.
There is more to tell you, but I have to go kasher the house. Happy Passover, y’all.
(EDIT: Here’s a brief article about the event from our local Jewish newspaper.)