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Ways to Celebrate Passover for Adults and Kids in the 21st Century
I'm Jewish, and I'm not at all religious. However, my favorite Jewish holiday is Passover. Maybe it's partly because I actually LIKE matzah, but it also has to do with the rituals, lessons, and yes, food that goes along with the holiday.
Like most Jewish holidays, the theme of Passover is, of course: They tried to kill us; we survived; let's eat.
It's All About the Food
Jews love to eat. It's a stereotype, yes. But really, it's true.
There are so, so many things you can do with matzah. It's just bread that's extra crispy. Almost anything you do with toast/bagels/crackers, you can make with matzah.
My favorite uses for matzah:
- Fried matzah (also called matzo brei, or matzah brie, or any various combination. It's tough to come to a consensus on how to spell Hebrew words in English)
- Matzah with cream cheese
- Matzah pizza
- Matzah brittle
There are tons of ideas at 100 Matzoh Recipes.
Of course, matzah isn't the only Passover food. But I won't pretend to be a cook. I'll let you find other recipes at Epicurious: Passover Recipes. I'm impressed that Epicurious has a Passover section. It's pretty large, too!
They sell everything on Amazon. Even the ten plagues.
Add Toys and Games
No one in my extended family is under age 15 at this point, but we're still all in love with the ten plagues playsets.
There are various types, such as little figurines, finger puppets, and small masks, but they are so much fun to hold up during the plagues section of the seder. It's also educational for kids, particularly visual and kinesthetic learners.
And it's a fun distraction if your family insists on reading the entire Haggadah during the seder instead of eating right away.
Other ideas, especially for kids (of all ages):
- If you and the kids are feeling clever, you can create your own representations of the plagues.
- Make puppets of (or dress up as) Moses, Pharaoh, the plagues, and re-enact the story of Passover.
- Find Passover printable coloring sheets and other printable activities online. Just search "Passover coloring" online and you will have more results than you can possibly use.
Passover in the 21st Century: Use Technology!
Jewish holidays are surely not exempt from the world of technology. There may not have been computers when our ancestors were slaves in Egypt, but if there were, you can be sure the Jews in the desert would have been tweeting furiously.
@WanderingMeshuggah If I knew we'd be wandering for 40 years, I'd have brought more toilet paper #woesofthechosenpeople
There are many apps for the technology-minded among us that relate to Passover: games, memory aids, cookbooks. The App Store and the Android Market have it all. Click for some reviews of iPhone apps and Android apps. You can always search for more yourself.
For those who like to play online games, there are Passover games, particularly for kids. Chabad.org has a smorgasbord of games, videos, and activities.
Liven Up the Seder Itself
In my family, we liven up our own seders by making jokes and choosing lines from the Haggadah that are our favorites and that are the most difficult to say. Not very reverent, but it makes us less focused on the fact that we're hungry.
Some have suggested that seders be themed. In doing research, I discovered to my great surprise that there are many different Haggadahs. They are published by various groups with various themes. Some are illustrated and are meant to capture the attention of kids (or kids at heart). Whether you are traditional, quirky, or like pretty pictures, there is a Haggadah for you.
There are also some ideas for full-blown seder themes at Jewcy.com.
Remember the Lessons of Passover
As an English major, analyzing something always made it more interesting to me. A good teacher and a stimulating discussion could infuse life into even the driest literature.
I'm sure that's not true for everyone, but at the very least, finding something in an old tradition that relates to your current life can give you a sense of connection and understanding.
And Passover, in my opinion, is the most relatable holiday. The themes of oppression, freedom, punishment, leadership, and standing up for what's right are not just historical concepts, but human questions that "plague" us today. (I LOVE PUNS.)
Here are some questions to stimulate discussion with your friends and family:
- Is there still any form of slavery today?
- Is there anyone similar to Moses today working to fight against what he or she believes is wrong?
- How would you feel if someone who did you wrong was punished in the way the Egyptians were punished?
- Do we have anything in common with the Jews who were in Egypt?
Passover begins March 25, 2013 this year. (It's hard to remember with the Jewish calendar.) With a little preparation, creativity, and humor, make Pesach this year one to remember.