Make Your Seder Fun and Interesting
Passover is coming!! The Seder is an occasion where you can “do it yourself,” at home, without the help of a Rabbi or expert. It’s up to you to make it fun and interesting for your family and guests. We’ve created this page to help you. We asked for ideas and we got them. Contributors are Dave Kassnoff, Marty Nemeroff, Leslie Schwartz, Sheila Weinbach, Carl Wetzstein and Mel Yessenow.
Before the Seder
Before They Come – Give each guest an assignment to look up something about Passover or Judaism – make it something they can actually find on the Internet. One caution here, ask them to report in their own words rather than read something verbatim from a print out.
Before You Start – Make up puzzles, such as crosswords, word searches, word jumbles using Passover words (find JUMBLES in your newspaper to see how this works), or a quiz. Have your guests complete them before the Seder starts and compare answers during the Seder.
Create the Atmosphere – Have Passover music playing as guests enter your house.
Eggs are part of every Seder – play the egg game. Take a hard boiled egg, shell it and put it in a little bit of salt water – one per guest. The object is to use a knife & fork to get the white off without nicking the yolk. The person who has the most perfect yolk is declared the winner. A small prize may be given.
Express yourself with art – pair people into twosomes and ask them to create a work of art representing something related to the Passover story. Give each a kit of materials consisting of the following: a small can of Playdough, some shredded paper, some beads and some straws. Ask each to present their work and talk about its meaning.
The Ten Plagues
Act them out – Have toys for the kids representing each plague, such as plastic animals, jumping frogs and a flash light to use when you darken the room.
Raise your plague – Randomly give each guest a sign with a plague and ask them to hold it up and say the plague at the right time instead of having the leader or the group read them. To be more creative, make up a picture or a puppet for each plague. Or use puppets as those shown above (they areare commercially available).
Share – Ask each guest to tell about their first Seder, or about a memorable Seder that they attended.
The four sons – Ask for a volunteer to represent each son and say how they feel. What good qualities might the wicked son have? Or bad qualities the wise son? Can they see the Seder through the eyes of the simple son or the one too young to ask?
The prophet Elijah – Ask for anything unusual that people remember happening when the door was opened at previous Seders. By the way, try find a creative way to diminish some wine from his cup.
Talk About Freedom – Ask: Have you ever not been free? What do you appreciate about our freedom? In what ways are we free? In what ways are we not free?
Encourage Conversation – Use a Haggadah that is designed for kids, even after your own kids are older. There’s a directness about that kind of text that encourages questions and conversation.
Switch Roles – Have the kids hide the Afikomen and the adults be the searchers. The kids get a needed early break from the table, and we also avoid having to reward only a single kid – we can give each one a small gift for their group effort.
Share the Lead
Take turns – ask everyone at the Seder table to take turns reading portions of the Haggadah. It makes it more interesting than having one person do all the reading and prayers.
The Passover Story – Write out the Passover story, then cut it up into strips of and distribute the strips randomly. Start by reading the first strip and then ask everyone to chime in at the correct time. You may have to expand the story beyond what is actually in the Haggadah, start with Joseph going to Egypt and end at Mount Sinai.
Charoses – Make a ton of charoses with the aim of having lots left over to eat during the week – it’s kind of like the “Thanksgiving turkey” that keeps on giving.
Music, Music, Music !!!
Music adds a lot – You can buy CD’s and tapes at Judaica stores, synagogues or on the Web. The following is a testimonial from one of our contributors. The site OYBaby.com has CDs and DVDs that will appeal to both adults and children. They have music from all of the holidays and from the prayer books. Most is sung by a trio with full instrumentation, some is sung by children, and some is just instrumental. The music is wonderful for easy listening or as background for a Seder or a party. Songs include Dayenu, The Four questions, etc.
People – There are Haggadot available that focus on various communities: Feminists, Vegetarians, Gays and Lesbians, Environmentalists, Secular Humanists, the Holocaust, Israel and others. You can either use these Haggadot or add discussions about these topics to your traditional Seder.
Freedom and Survival – Discuss or tell about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising on the eve of Passover in 1943, the work of the Righteous Gentiles in saving Jews from the Nazis, the experience of Jews seeking freedom in America (one wonderful book is “A Bintel Brief ” which contains letters to the Jewish Daily Forward from greenhorns seeking advice on adjusting to this strange country).