an impromptu Passover Seder
For the very first time ever, I decided that we would attempt to pull of a Passover Seder dinner this year. Didn’t know much about it. Didn’t plan it. Was just on my heart to try it out! I knew that while it’s a prominent annual Jewish holiday – I also know that many Christians do observe it as well. After all…. Jesus celebrated it and is so connected with Palm Sunday and his entering into Jerusalem, and the Last Supper. What prompted this was an email I got from one of the websites I subscribe to – it was a ‘Guide to Haggadah’ written for people like us who don’t know anything about Passover…. and would walk you through the evening. It was nicely illustrated and caught my eye. Plus our main church campus already had their Passover Seder event and I’d missed it because they didn’t mention that it existed at our campus. Perhaps next year we’ll go surely they’ll present it again. So with just 1.5 hours til sundown I told the kids to quickly start on some fun projects I found online while I rushed to the store to get the dinner supplies! One bonus to last minute prep… everything on the end cap at the store was like 75% OFF. 😉 Of course those seasoned Passover observers would NEVER have been running around the store this late in the game. I know there are many many fine intricate rules of what to do, not to do, that I know were missed (hunting down crumbs of leavened bread), altered (wrong bone type!! different number of candles, possibly wrong color) or skimped on (wrong horseradish… and used grape juice not wine) in our haphazard Passover so please don’t follow our example. We were just having fun.
What is a Haggadah?
The Haggadah is basically like a program that is used by everyone at the table to interactively tell/read/sing the story of the exodus. The lighting of the candles signal the beginning of Passover, the children ask specific questions, search for the hidden Afikomen (a symbolic piece of Matzah, unleavened bread) and open the door for Elijah. At different times of the evening you’ll be directed to a certain item on your plate and it’s meaning will be explained. Some items you look at, others you will dip or eat. Passover “is really more than a festival. It is an elaborate teaching experience, especially for the children, intended to call people to their identity as the People of God. By using all of the senses, the Passover Seder tells the story of God’s grace in history and calls the participants to experience and share in the story as their own story. Passover becomes more than simply a service or a time; it becomes a way to confess faith in the One who has acted in history, and for Jews expresses the hope that He will continue to act in bringing deliverance to all people everywhere.” [http://www.cresourcei.org/seder.html] After the Haggadah you will proceed to your main meal and dessert (thankfully you aren’t left with a lamb bone and romaine lettuce for dinner!).
Highlights from the Evening
The kids made finger puppets to represent the 10 plagues that the Lord brought upon the Egyptians. BamBam only wanted to use the frogs because they were so cutesy cute. Pebbles used all of hers during the story telling process. (Download the templates here at theshiksa.com)
Multitudes of paper cut out frogs were made to decorate the table. (Ours was a quick version using green paper, my kids didn’t want them ‘attached’ like snowflakes though. Download the template from AlphaMom.com) They were a highlight of the evening and frankly almost could jump too when poked just right! FUN!
They also created a fun parting of the Red Sea in BamBam’s room with blue lighting, blue blankets and sheets with various small stuffed animals on it – fish…. angry birds…. Diver Dan book friends the shark, octopus, crab etc…. Sack Boy from Little Big Planet and of course Nemo …. 😉
I also printed off adorable Seder plate place mats for them to color (and yes for me… I used it as a guide of what to put on the plates!) I have a soft spot for anything with adorable illustrations and cute faces anyway. 😉 (download template available at The Design Pocket)
I put our Haggadah PDF on the ipad through Kindle so we could read it at the table… and I had run out of yellow ink in our printer so didn’t want to print it out. 😉
Our Seder plates consisted of:
- boiled egg (Beitzah – a roasted egg that recalls the roasted lamb that was slaughtered at the Temple during the season of Passover.) I just did a hard boiled egg…. easier for the kids to eat.
- wasabi (!) Our preferred version of a hot horseradish… I knew we’d eat it again, and I couldn’t find a horseradish root at the store and I was running out of time. (Chazeret – an incredibly inedible herb symbolizing the atrocities upon the Jewish baby boys.)
- romaine lettuce (Maror – a bitter herb symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of slavery)
- parsley (Karpas – to be dipped in salt water)
- a home made blend of mixed nuts, dried cranberries, apricots, honey, grape juice and nutmeg (charoset – representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt – and their toil.)
- ** this is not supposed to be on the plate…. but I knew my family wouldn’t like my homemade fruit nut sweet mixture… so I put a dab of Nutella on there because I knew they would like to dip the Matzah into it! **
- a bowl of salt water (representing the tears and sweat of the Jewish slaves – as well as the splitting of the Red Sea)
- a bone (totally unkosher… it was a chicken bone! :0 Is supposed to be a lamb shank bone but I bought a deli chicken for a fast dinner item and that was the only bone I could find on such short notice !! (Zero’a or Etzem – symbolizing the sacrificed lamb whose blood was put on the doorposts – the deliverance.)
BamBam asked a number of times ‘what’s THIS?! Is this dinner? Do I eat this?!’ before we even began. 😉 Pebbles wanted to wear her grandma’s wedding shawl over her head like the Israelites did – she did this on her own accord. She lit the candles and spoke the ‘mother’ script in both Hebrew and English. I spoke the ‘father’s’ script because I knew Dad wouldn’t be keen on doing that. I think he was still surprised at the whole event we had planned!! Helped BamBam with the ‘children’s questions’ but I ended up reading most of it.
On the table:
- matzah/matzo (unleavened bread) covered with a cloth
- a bowl of salt water in which to dip the parsley (representing the tears) * Supposed to be on the plate I think, but we don’t have official plates that would have worked as easily)
- wine glasses for the 4 cups or promises of God given to Moses (Sanctification > Deliverance > Redemption > Restoration)
Reflection of the evening
While I was feeling under prepared and not knowledgeable enough to pull this off ‘properly’ (and I know that we did not) I didn’t let perfectionism or legalism stop us from experiencing this beautiful story and evening. The ambiance of the QUIET and the candles was peaceful and pretty. The storytelling along with the activities was so much FUN the children absolutely were riveted the entire time – even the wiggly 5 yr old. Seeing how Christ is shown in the traditional elements of the story was really enlightening. The kids were SO excited to share their parting of the Red Sea with us – and the dog loved it too. Tasting the horseradish was fun – and Dad got to share his favorite wasabi story from back on his Lanai Trilogy days about the tourist who thought it was a mint…. and popped it in his mouth with a huge surprise. 😉 If the grape juice was real wine…. with all the pourings… I can see how a long multiple hour Seder could turn quite jolly…. Nobody loved the matzah, or the charoset. I thought they were good. (The matzah the next day with butter and cinnamon sugar… oh boy that’s yummy. A good thing because I got a $13 lot of it for $4 – tons leftover.) We enjoyed practicing our Hebrew reading. Pebbles loved lighting the candles. BamBam played with his frogs. Each element on the plate had it’s own rich symbolism and part to play in the Exodus story – very interactive for everyone. The hand & feet washing the kids loved – and reminded us of when Jesus had his feet washed. Next time – more time to plan. Have dinner already ready. Do the creative projects not last minute – would like to make a fabric envelope to hold the matzah like I’ve seen on some creative sites. Don’t buy premixed potato veggie mushy pancakes… icky …… !! Make homemade macaroons or other fun desserts. The cheap kosher marble cake was only palatable with ice cream….. very dry. I’m sure each time will improve! The main thing is that it was a valuable and rare family time together where we were focused on the many ways that God leads us to freedom …. and not the many distractions in our lives.
To top it off – the full lunar eclipse occurred that night which we stayed up late to watch !