A Seder kids won’t pass over

Creating a family-friendly service

When Michelle Gittler was growing up, the Passover Seder dinner was not a welcome experience. "We used to read through the whole Maxwell House book. It was terribly boring," says Gittler, who lives in Chicago.

The coffee company has been providing free Haggadahs, the text for the Seder, for more than 70 years. Not only has the blue-and-white book remained the same since 1934, it is referred to by many as stifling and regimented. This is amazing since the Seder commemorates the flight of the Jews from Egypt—a dramatic chapter in history that includes plagues, pestilence and Moses parting the Red Sea.

Gittler and her husband, Lee, were determined to change that for their daughters, Aila, 11, and Hannah, 8. They are among a growing number of parents trying to infuse creativity into the traditional service.

Buffalo Grove mother and Jewish educator Ilene Brot creates her own Haggadah every year, and includes coloring pages and games. After the Seder, she saves the pictures colored by her sons, Joshua, 8, and Daniel, 5, dating them and including them in future editions.

Here are a few tips on how to make your Passover Seder on this eight-day holiday, which this year begins on April 12, more kid-centric.

 Make it a game. Create a memory game or a board game with the parts of the Seder so kids can keep track of where they are in the service.

 Get kids to help prepare the Seder.

 Keep it interesting. Use music, sights and smells.

 Encourage kids to ask questions.

 Make it a celebration. Focus on fun.

Gittler’s family creates plays and songs so the kids can help tell the story. Everyone at her Seder reads—if only a letter. "I think it makes them feel important. They get huge applause even if they only say a letter. They love that." Lenna Scott

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Chicago Parent Going Places’ spring 2006 issue.


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