10 Ways to Enjoy the Seder By Rabbi Yakov Palatnik
Let's face it – we have all experienced some pretty boring Seders in our days, or some that have turned into just another family dinner party devoid of meaning. In order to bring more meaning and enjoyment back to the family Seder, try the following:
1. Go to the dollar store and buy some "visual aids" for the plagues. When you get to that part of the Haggadah, throw out a pile of frogs…plastic cows and animals…snakes and spiders…ping pong balls (hail)…dark sunglasses (darkness)…Be creative and fun. The kids (and adults) will love it.
2. Buy some dollar store "prizes" for kids. When they ask a good question (which is what you're trying to stimulate), they get a prize. Also give prizes for asking the Four Questions, good singers, etc… The kids will keep busy playing with their prize (doll, soldier, etc.) until they think of another good question and jump back in.
3. Explain to everyone that they are like royalty on Seder night. And since kings and queens do not pour for themselves, everyone gets a "pouring partner" who fills up their glass with wine or grape juice (or a combo) at the appropriate time. People pair up and have fun with this.
4. Read the Haggadah in the language that you best understand. That means English is fine. Share the reading by going around the table and taking turns.
5. It's okay to stop during the reading for a good discussion on the topic at hand. You may want to prepare some questions in advance to throw out at people such as:
- "If the Haggadah tells us that we are still slaves and not free, our definition of freedom must be very different. We are Jews in North America, aren't we free? What is the Jewish definition of freedom?"
- "Next year in Jerusalem? How many of us really want to live in Israel? What does the Land of Israel mean to you?"
- "The wise son doesn't sound so wise. He doesn't seem to know anything. What is the Jewish definition of wisdom?"
There is no such thing as a dumb question. Encourage an atmosphere where people feel comfortable asking questions about what's being said in the Haggadah. Once a question is asked, invite everyone to think about a possible answer, and/or to look in their Haggadah to find one.
6. Tell everyone to eat a light meal before coming to the Seder. That way they won't be starving and want to hurry through the Haggadah. This is not a dinner party – the reading and discussion of the Haggadah is the whole point of the evening! Let people know in advance that they will be reading through the Haggadah and discussing issues long before they begin eating. Don't let the meal become the focus.
7. Assign topics to present to various guests. For example, give someone the section on "The Four Sons" and get them to learn and discuss the meaning behind each son to present to everyone at the table.
9. If you are trying to change the focus of the family Seder toward something more meaningful, try hosting it at your home this year ("home team advantage"), and always invite guests who are not family. When "guests" are there, even the most cynical family member is on their best behavior. Try it. It works.
10. Use "The Passover Survival Kit" by Shimon Apisdorf. It's available at your local Jewish bookstore and is filled with great tips and insights into making the Seder fun and meaningful. It's also a terrific source of questions to stimulate conversation, ideas on each section of the Haggadah, and more.
Passover Bingo Board
Games like Passover Bingo (www.passoverbingo.com) bring the Haggadah alive, keeping kids and adults eagerly participating at your Seder. The Passover Bingo board game has words and images that are central to the Passover holiday. It's professionally designed to help people learn about Passover. This game can be used at any time to learn about the important events and personalities of Passover, or during your first and second Seders for Passover.
This unique Jewish board game, which is fun and educational, can be enjoyed by the entire family. It helps motivate people to follow along with the story of Exodus. Guests at your traditional Seder will be participating and paying rapt attention to the pages, thanks to this easy-to-play game. People who play it before or after the Seder will leave satisfied that they have grasped the basic concepts of Passover, made so accessible in a colorful graphic format.
The Passover Bingo game features bright colors, cards that are durable, large, and easy to read, words and pictures on the boards that correspond with the Hagaddah and story of Exodus from Egypt, and enough cards for up to six players. A word list and explanations are included, so the bingo game can be played any time people get in the Pesach mood.
This popular board game makes a great gift for family or friends. It's available at www.passoverbingo.com for $24.95, and a portion of profits are set aside for tzedakah.