Passover Family Activities

Six years ago when your first child was little, you and she sat together and had a wonderful time preparing for Pesach by making an afikoman cover.

Four years ago when your first child was still little and your second child was on the way, you and your daughter sat together and had a nice time preparing for Pesach by making an afikoman cover.

Two years ago when your first child was older, but your second child was still little, and a third was on the way, you and your two children sat together and prepared for Pesach by making afikoman covers.

Now you have three children, and if you have to make one more afikoman cover you’re going to run screaming from the house. Good grief, can’t someone come up with fun holiday ideas that don’t involve the afikoman?

Here’s a family project that not only is fun to make, it’s great at the seder table. The plan: make bags filled with the Ten Plagues (actually, only reasonable facsimiles thereof; don’t worry – you won?t need any live locusts), to open as you read about each one in the Haggadah.

The fun is discovering what each family member will place inside the bag. Begin by securing 10 paper bags, then write the name of each plague on the outside. As you prepare for the holiday, ask family members to put inside every bag something that recalls the plague. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Blood: A red rag, or a small bottle filled with any kosher-for-Pesach red liquid.

Frogs: Those plastic ones at discount stores are great. Or look for tiny stuffed animals, or pictures of the Budweiser frogs, or Jeremy Fisher from the Beatrix Potter tales.

Vermin: Again, plastic bugs are really quite divine. Or build your own with toothpicks and construction paper.

Wild beasts: Cut out felt shapes and place on a felt background. You’ll find a great selection of inexpensive felt pieces in a variety of colors at your favorite craft shop. Cut out in different shapes and sizes and

Pestilence: Since the Haggadah is a little sketchy on exactly what this was, use your imagination, but make lots of whatever you ultimately decide to use (perhaps tiny black, plastic bugs).

Boils: Look for those gooey plastic eyeballs, or any slimy substance that makes your skin crawl.

Hail: Ping-pong balls or small, white marbles work well. (Be cautious with marbles, however, if you have tiny children.)

Locusts: Consider making these out of shrinking plastic (Available at craft shops, this paper shrinks when placed in the oven) or out of green pipe cleaners.

Darkness: A blindfold for each family member.

Slaying of the first-born: A tiny plastic baby, or otherwise tasteful drawing.

No one should divulge his contribution, so that when the bags are opened it will be filled with many surprises!

Tradition, Tradition

Some Jews eat rice on Pesach, and some don’t.

Your mother-in-law insists on egg soup as an appetizer, while your family never entertained such a thought.

Your grandfather always hid the afikoman for the children to find, but your wife’s family insists it’s the child who should do the honors.

Your next-door neighbor is Moroccan. She says Pesach should last even longer than eight days, so she celebrates with a yummy feast called maimuna…

To learn more about family traditions, as well as the practices of other Jews, ask each person attending the Seder to prepare brief information about an interesting Pesach custom. Younger children will enjoy making a drawing of their discovery.

What In The Word?

You read them each year at the Seder, but do you really know what they mean?

  • Yom Tov: Literally, “day good.” (In Hebrew, the adjective comes before the noun). This can be used with any Jewish holiday.
  • Chol Ha-moed: The intermediate days of any Jewish holiday – in this case the days in between the first two and the last two days of the holiday. On Chol Ha-moed, one is permitted to write, spend money and work, etc., if necessary.
  • Matzoh: Unleavened bread.
  • Seder: Order.
  • Mah Nishtanah: What is the difference?
  • Maror: Bitter.
  • Charoset: Clay.
  • Karpas: Greens.
  • Haggadah: Telling.
  • Afikoman: Literally, “after-meal,” popularly translated as “dessert.”
  • Chametz: Leavening.
  • Bedikat Chametz: Checking for chametz.

The Story of Pesach

The story of Pesach is not, as many assume, simply a tale of freedom.

Instead, it is a story about the formation of the Jews as a people. The Haggadah explains this, of course, and every child in Sunday school or Jewish day school hears it many times. But the story is always new, always fresh, if you hear it from a different perspective. Ask each child in the family to prepare a brief presentation that tells the story of Pesach. He or she may want to write a poem, or draw illustrations in a book, or do a play, or sing a song. You may be surprised to hear what they choose to emphasize.

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