Adath Israel Congregation’s Youth celebrated Passover with a variety of seders. Our youngest children in kindergarten through second grade had a very creative look at the Passover Seder led by Kathy Wise. Kathy showed up with her interactive Seder plate puppets. The students loved learning about the items on the Seder plate through her retelling of the Passover story. Many of the children especially loved when Cookie Monster wanted to change his name to Matzah Monster and crushed matzah as he ate it! At the end of the program, Kathy Wise taught the children some of her original Passover songs.
Next it was time for the third through seventh graders to participate in their own model seder, which marked the anticipated return of the Jarson Education Center’s Model Seder. At the start of the year many teachers had expressed an interest in bringing this tradition back to our religious school. The goal of our model seder was to be sure that all our students experienced a seder with their religious school family that was informative and interactive. In order to accomplish this we first had to create the Jarson Education Center Haggadah.
The seder began as many seders do, by students sharing their favorite moments from their family’s seders. When it came to the first handwashing to prepare for our seder, we read a touching poem aloud called “Blessed be these hands.” Students then had the opportunity to add their own blessing to this poem, in which each line begins with Blessed be these hands. Some that the students added were:
Blessed be these hands that hold a child.
Blessed be these hands that comfort us when we are sick.
Blessed be these hands that cook the food that nourishes us.
When it came to asking the Four Questions, all of the children participated. We had volunteers who acted the parts of the four children as well as their parents to answer the questions they asked about Passover. Our music teacher, Mitch Cohen, led us in Avadeem Hayinu, the Frog Song and Let My People Go.
A highlight of the seder was a performance of “Let My People Go! A Passover Play” that was written specifically for our seder. There were 13 parts, including Moses, G-d, Pharaoh, Joseph, Benjamin, several Hebrews, the Boss and Aaron, which enabled many children to participate. The acting was superb and they told the rest of the students the story of Passover. When we got to the plagues, our River turned red with blood, flies were buzzing, lice were crawling around, hail was flying, cattle disease struck our animals, locust were humming, darkness fell and we made sure to paint the lambs’ blood on our doorpost so the last plague would pass us by! Our play ended with our third grade singing their 10 plagues song and then everyone joining in for Dayenu.
Throughout our seder, students were able to taste charoset, make a Hillel sandwich, dip their parsley in salt water and taste the bitter herb. When it came time for our Passover meal, we all finished what was on our seder plates.
After religious school the teens of Adath Israel had their own seder that was creative, fun, delicious and something that is happening all over the world as an interesting way to introduce people of all ages to the concept of a seder—a chocolate seder!
Adath Israel’s Youth and Family Department threw this lively chocolate seder on Wednesday, April 4, two days before Passover began. Designed for two of Adath Israel’s youth groups, Kadima and USY, the room was full of sixth through 12th graders. There were 33 teens and pre-teens in attendance and with the USYers leading the show, everyone took turns reading from the specially created Haggadah.
The seder began by describing all of the elements on the chocolate seder plate, which included an egg filled with M&M’s, a piece of bitter chocolate for the bitter herbs, a chocolate mint in place of parsley, chocolate covered raisins for charoset, green M&M’s for the lettuce and a chocolate lollycone in place of the shank bone. As they read through the Haggadah, which mimicked the order of a traditional seder, they dipped fruit into a melted chocolate fondue, tasted all kinds of chocolate and drank four cups of chocolate milk.
When they reached the meal part of the service, everyone took a break from chocolate to eat a dinner of pasta, potatoes and vegetables. And of course there was ice cream for dessert. Flavors included chocolate, vanilla and cookies and cream and could be topped off with chocolate syrup. The seder continued briefly after dinner and the teens played a couple of mixer games together.
This chocolate seder was more than just an excuse for dessert (and who needs an excuse), it was a way for Adath Israel’s youth group teens to get together, enjoy each other’s company while learning the structure of the Passover Seder and relate the practices of a traditional seder to that of the chocolate seder. In addition to being a delicious event, it was also a unique pre-Passover experience.