The prescription against leavened food symbolizes the hurried
flight of the Jews from Egypt: those fleeing the pharaoh's
oppression did not have time to wait for their bread to rise, so
they mixed a simple dough and placed it on their back for the hot
sun to bake as they fled through the desert. The flat matzo is what
At a Seder, the children help tell the story of Passover.
The youngest child asks the Four Questions, which explain what is
special about the holiday. At some point in the meal, the kids make
off with the afikomen, the special piece of matzo used for the
ceremonial dessert, and the leader has to bargain with the young
thieves to get it back.
The Jewish holiday of Passover can be a lot of fun
for kids. This eight-day festival commemorating the Jewish people's
deliverance from slavery in Egypt is mostly celebrated at home and
children are a big part of the festivities.
The special foods that Jewish families eat during Passover
are an essential part of the holiday. For eight days, those
observing Passover do not eat any leavened foods-foods that rise
when cooked-or any foods containing wheat, except for matzo. That
means no bread, no cereal, no pasta and no cookies. Following these
rules can be quite a challenge, especially if your kids live on
pizza and macaroni and cheese.
But Passover is not only about what you can't eat, it's
also about what you get to eat. My family looks forward to eating
two Passover foods all year: matzo ball soup and my mother-in-law's
famous charoset. Matzo ball soup, that Jewish deli classic, is a
favorite part of the Seder because, besides tasting good, it is
often the first real food the hungry participants get to eat after
the long pre-meal rituals. Charoset-a sweet, chunky spread made
from chopped fruit and nuts-is a guaranteed kid favorite,
especially when scooped up with the pieces of crunchy
Because children are such an integral part of the Passover
Seder, I get my two involved in cooking for the meal. It's a great
way to start a conversation about family traditions and the
symbolism of the holiday foods. For example, on the ceremonial
Seder plate, the charoset represents the mortar the Jews used as
slaves in Egypt. Making the charoset with my kids inevitably leads
into a discussion of why we eat this unusual food on Passover and
what life must have been like for those Jewish slaves so long
Hosting or attending a Passover Seder is a fun tradition.
In fact, many Jewish families make it a point to invite non-Jewish
friends to their Seders.
Chag Smeach! Happy Passover!
Emily Paster is a River Forest mom of two, a lawyer teaching at Loyola Law School and the mom behind the West of the Loop blog.
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