Rabbi Ben Shefter
Passover is a holiday filled with so many family memories and traditions. I still remember the anxiety I felt as a child being forced to sing the Four Questions in front of my whole family. There was also the “Moses Staff” that my uncle would lead us around the table with when we were all delirious from exhaustion or inebriated by wine. And there was the famous “baa”ing of my Bubby, grandmother, during Chad Gadya, One kid Goat. All of these made the seder fun and engaging as I was growing up. However, when I had to host my first seder, without my family around, I was forced to start thinking about what traditions and memories I wanted to bring to the table.
In Tractate Menachot 28b, the Sages highlights a unique aspect of the trumpets used in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. Unlike all the other vessels, that were allowed to be used from generation to generation, the trumpets needed to be remade over and again. Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky explains that the trumpets act as an alarm clock to excite people to learn and connect to Judaism. Since each generation has different technologies, and interests, it is incumbent on all parents and educators to renew and revive traditions for the new generation. The way that you were taught in school should not be the same way your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews should be taught today.
You can see this idea come to life in the myriad haggadot that can be purchased. Whether it is the comic book haggadah, the pop up bird haggadah, or the social justice haggadah, you can find many different texts to liven things up. The one problem with all of these books, is that they are books. With so many different technological tools, it is important to harness some of these other avenues to arouse people’s curiosity to ask, why is this night different from all other nights? In light of these ideas I wanted to share three new tools that you can use to connect your guests to Judaism.
The first and easiest thing to do is to use all the amazing artwork and videos out there to spark conversations. One of my favourites is the YouTube video Batmoses: Freedom Rises on Passover. Prompting people to bring or share a video or piece of art that connects to Passover, freedom, or Judaism can change the feel of the Seder.
One of the major portions of the Seder is the Maggid section, when we retell the Exodus story and look for parallels in our own time. A fun way to open up people to exploring their own interpretation or drash is by using Humanity Against Chametz Cards. Here’s how it works: One black card is placed in the middle of the table, and white cards are split amongst the people at the table. Everyone chooses a white card to complete the sentence appearing on the black card. One can purchase a whole set from chutzpah-cards.myshopify.com/
A way to make the hiding and finding of the Afikomen more educational and interesting is turning this part of the seder into a scavenger hunt. Lock the Afikoman in a box and then hide clues that lead to the hidden location and how to unlock the box.
Rabbi Ben Shefter is McMaster Hillel’s senior Jewish educator.