Earlier today, our middle school students with their VIP guests (more on that in a bit) studied the tenth chapter of the tractate Pesachim which explores many of the reasons why the seder is organized in the way that it is. Looking at the text, they saw both familiar and unfamiliar rituals. Analyzing the text, you can see the priorities that the rabbis of the Mishnah (a text that was developed around and after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE and codified in 220 CE) had in creating the seder ritual. Among them were:
- Making it a portable, home-based ritual
- Remembering the sacrifices conducted in the Temple
- Reminder of God’s greatness
- Engage the next generation of Jews by asking questions
- Creating unity among Jews who would now be more separate as they spread around the world.
It is these last two that I began focusing on last week in my blog. The seder is a ritual that is so rich and that can be a unique experience year after year or even from first seder to second seder. Here are a few of the family minhagim (customs) that were shared with me in the last week:
- Have each participant bring their own haggadah to the seder. Share the different commentaries, translations, and pictures that accompany them.
- Chase each other with green onions (scallions) during Dayeinu.
- Get creative with your charoset. Mix chocolate chips into a little bit of it and serve it with the Afikomen.
- Serve a vegetable based appetizer after Karpas. You have said the blessing over vegetables at that point and more could be eaten.
- Share stories of past sedarim that you have attended.
- Put out a cup for Miriam that is filled with water to represent Miriam’s well that followed the Israelites in the desert.
- Create a bag of plagues with toys that represent each plague. Put out puppets for Chad Gadya (One Little Goat) and insist that each participant use a funny voice while singing the song.
- Explore saying the Mah Nishtanah (Four Questions) in another language. Look for it in Yiddish, Arabic, German, or Ladino for example.
- Create a new custom for your family this year that is your very own.
Enrich your seder with the knowledge that your children have gained from their Schechter education.
Earlier today, our students brought smiles to the faces of their VIPs in their classrooms and then together in the gym as we joined together as a community. With our VIPs present in the morning and the opportunity to wish our 8th graders a nesiyah tovah (safe travels) in the afternoon, it has been an incredible week of learning, sharing, and growing.
On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors of Gross Schechter Day School, I wish you aZissen Pesach.
Shabbat Shalom v’Chag Kasher v’Sameach,
Dr. Ari Yares
Head of School