Things Kids Hate About Seder

Posted on March 3, 2018 by Sarah Gluck

  1. I don’t know what it means.
  2. It’s boring. It just drags on and on. There’s so much to read.
  3. I’m hungry. Being allowed to have only a small bite of food each time we say a blessing is torture.
  4. Horseradish doesn’t taste good.
  5. My extended family speaks different languages.
  6. I’m not allowed to text at the table.
  7. Being expected to read Hebrew just because I’m in Hebrew School makes me uncomfortable.
  8. I have to recite the Four Questions, even though I’m not the youngest. Not fair!
  9. It’s a drag to give up foods I like for eight days.
  10. Matzah is messy.

Conversations over the years with students in Grades 3 through 7 have given them the opportunity to express all the things they don’t like about the Passover Seder. The idea is not to focus on the negative, but to allow the kids to get everything they don’t like about Seder out of their systems before flipping the conversation around to the positive.

It is always important to acknowledge what children have to say about their experiences — and — you know what? — about Seder, they’re right!

Seder is meant to be interesting and engaging, not dry and boring. It should be not too long, just long enough to tell the story, and to tell it meaningfully. There’s much we can do to make the experience lively and interactive, for children and adults alike. Convey the messages of freedom and redemption clearly and with feeling. Sing songs. Put on a skit. Come in costume, if you are so moved. Ask questions, and make it clear that everyone around the table has something valuable to contribute, including, maybe even especially, the children. After all, they are the ones who will carry the tradition forward. Our job is to give the great themes of Pesach new life each year through the rituals and symbols of the Seder.

So, let’s rework our list:

10 Things Kids Want From Seder:

  1. I like being Jewish. Please help me understand what this means.
  2. The Haggadah is long. Please help me understand it by choosing to read some, but not all, of it. I don’t mind moving from beginning to end, but reading every word in between is too much. I’m still just a kid.
  3. Please put some healthy snacks on the table so I can focus on the Seder and not on my growling stomach.
  4. Explain what the foods on the Seder plate represent so I know why horseradish is included and understand that it isn’t supposed to taste good.
  5. I love being together with my family; I just wish the old folks would speak English consistently so we all can talk to each other.
  6. When you let me know that you value my presence and participation, I’ll be happy to be present and participate. It’s no problem to leave my phone in my room.
  7. I like learning Hebrew and know you’re proud of me, but please don’t put me on the spot. I may not be as comfortable with it as you think I am. Maybe someone could help me get started or even read with me.
  8. I don’t mind reciting the Four Questions, even though I’m not the youngest, but please ask me instead of just expecting me to do it.
  9. When I understand the reasons for giving up foods I like, it’s not so hard. I can manage without them (especially when you let me have some extra Passover goodies).
  10. Matzah is messy no matter what. No positive spin here.

The Passover story is a magnificent tale of faith and freedom. Its message of the redemptive power of God that sustained our ancestors in their journey from slavery to freedom will continue to sustain us in our generation and in generations yet to come.

This year, as we gather for Seder, let’s make sure that everyone around the table can play an active role in retelling the story to truly understand and live the values that distinguish our faith and our people.

Chag Pesach sameach — wishing you and your family a joyous Passover!

Sarah Gluck

Originally published in the March-April issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.