Retelling Our Story

Posted on March 8, 2019 by Sarah Gluck & Lisa Friedman

Did you know that Pesach is the most-observed Jewish holiday in North America? Family and friends gather around the table to retell the ancient story of our people’s liberation from bondage and journey into freedom. We beautify our tables with ritual objects and special settings that we use just for Passover. We prepare delicious food, including cherished family recipes, to be enjoyed by all. And we tell the story.

The seder is meant to be interesting and engaging, not dull and boring. It should be just long enough to tell the story meaningfully. There’s so much we can do to make the seder experience lively and interactive, for both children and adults. The job of the seder leader(s) is to give the great themes of Pesach new life each year through the familiar rituals and symbols, and to do it in such a way as to involve everyone around the table.

Here are just a few tips to help make your seder extra-dynamic and fun:

  • First, choose a haggadah that will be meaningful to you and your guests. Rabbi Gluck and I both have many different haggadot that we would be glad to show you.
  • Convey the messages of freedom and redemption clearly and with feeling, and make sure to carry the messages of the holiday forward into our own time.
  • Sing songs, with or without musical accompaniment.
  • Put on a skit.
  • Come in costume.
  • Have colorful pillows available for reclining in yourchairs.
  • Set out Pesach activities (plague bags, puzzles, coloring pages) on the table for the kids.
  • Above all, ask questions — lots of questions — and make it clear that everyone around the table has something valuable to contribute by way of response including, maybe even especially, the children, because they will carry the tradition forward.

The Passover story is a magnificent tale of faith and freedom. The message that the redemptive power of God, which sustained our ancestors in their journey from slavery to freedom, and that continues to sustain us in our generation and in generations yet to come, is powerful and inspiring. 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 and Lisa Friedman

Originally published in the March-April 2019 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.