April 05,2012

My Haggadah: Made it Myself

Posted by Made It Myself Books

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"Move over Maror. Make Room for Markers, Glue Sticks, Fabric Scraps and More"
-by Francine Hermelin Levite
With found materials in your home and and the tools for a DIY Haggadah, you can create a seder that gets to the essence of the Exodus story and engage everyone at your Seder table. 
Last week I staged a riff on the model Seder -- a Haggadah-making party at  our neighborhood Manhattan fabric store. One of the beautiful and unique elements of the ancient Passover tradition is that it can happen anywhere and does not need a professional at the helm. Telling the story of our Exodus is a unique opportunity to deepen understanding of our precarious and privileged state of freedom.
Fourteen kids ranging in age from 7-12 met at Jem Fabric Warehouse on lower Broadway owned by Michelle Vaharian and her family. (The sheer existence of the warehouse speaks volumes to another Jewish family tale best reserved for a different post.)
Our guide for the afternoon was the DIY Haggadah, My Haggadah: Made It Myself  that I wrote with the help of my crafty and crafting family over the past 8 years. With its open-ended questions and sometimes irreverent drawing prompts, My Haggadah: Made It Myself is designed to be a conversation tool for kids -- alone or with their parents -- to wrestle with Passover's themes.  Just like the Seder's Four Children who approach the Seder with different styles, this book has ample space for people to express themselves in their own style: words, drawings, photos, or collage. Kids say the darnedest things about plagues and miracles. Last Friday, as I hope will happen tomorrow at the actual Seder, we used the book to stop, listen and capture the moment.
Below are some excerpts from our journey:
The Four Questions  are actually not questions at all, but a collection of curiosities about the ritual meal: matzah, maror, dipping twice and reclining. Page 23 offers up a Cabinet of Curiosities, where participants are asked to list other strange things at their Seder. For 9- year old Dylan those include among others "Little Brother, Teenage Girls, Loud People." Legitimate curiosities indeed.
The Maggid/Story section invites kids to create their own plague. For 12-year old Luca,  it is a man whose body morphs into the spelling of the word "Boredom."  As the Jews are fleeing Egypt, we're asked to consider and collect our most precious items in a suitcase, "If you had to pack in a hurry, what would you take?"  From football jerseys to family, 12-year old Noah's bag is stuffed to the borders as if he is determined to find room for everything on his list. As the kids were drawing, they broke into a conversation about Africa and areas where kids today have to flee in an instant. 
What appeared on the surface to be a crafting day was at its core an afternoon of lively conversation and personal connections to a Jewish story packed with universal themes. Plus it was a great prep for Seders to come.
To get more information on My Haggadah: Made It Myself, please visit www.madeitmyselfbooks.com
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