The Passover story - the Jewish people's enslavement in Egypt and subsequent exodus - is re-enacted each year at the seder table. Part of what is so unique about this experience is that each family, and each person, is supposed to find relevance and personal connections to the Passover story.
Together with your children, watch the Shalom Sesame videos below to explore the retelling of the story of Passover. Then try some of the discussion ideas and activities below recommended by Reform Jewish educators to further extend the lessons learned in the videos.
That is the question. The seder is not just a meal, it's an event! People at the seder are encouraged to do more than just read from the Haggadah; it is part of the tradition—and the fun—to ask questions and add your own commentary. The four questions read at the seder are not meant to be the only questions of the night, but rather the warm-up questions. Everyone can ask questions, young and old; you can ask about the story, the customs of the seder, and how the story is relevant today.
As if you were in Egypt. It's important to try to put ourselves in the shoes (or sandals!) of our ancestors in order to truly appreciate one of the central messages of Passover: empathy. How do you think it felt for the people to leave Egypt after living there for so many years? Why do you think it was so hard for the Pharaoh to let them go? If you had lived in Egypt and had to leave in a hurry, what do you think you would have taken with you?
Different words, same story. In the video below, “Kids Talk About Passover,” Israeli children tell the Passover story in their own words. Some of the words they use, such as Mitzrayim (Hebrew for Egypt) or Moshe (Hebrew for Moses) may be unfamiliar to your children. Talk about how Jews around the world might use different words to describe the same story.
Leaving in a hurry. Yes, it can sometimes (okay, often) be a challenge to find new ways to keep your kids engaged during the seder. Try this to help them understand the struggle and the journey out of Egypt: Give them knapsacks and ask them to fill them with their favorite toys in thirty seconds. Ask them why they chose what they did. How did it feel to have to pack up so quickly? What might they miss?
Asking questions. The Passover story unfolds at the seder table through questions. Write down some questions on index cards that you can share with your kids. Let them pick a card and you read the question—the answers are less important than the questions themselves, so ask your children what questions they have, and add them to your list.
Storytelling chain. Try telling the Passover story in a storytelling chain. You can begin, then go around the table, in turn, with each person continuing to tell the story. You may be surprised at how each retelling is slightly different! Once you've told the story, see if you can "see yourselves as if you left Egypt" and talk about favorite Passover characters. Ask what the children think it felt like for the Israelites to leave their home in such a hurry.
Kids Talk About the Passover Story
Kids explain the story behind the celebration of Passover and why the Israelites needed to make matzah so quickly.