The Omer Count-Up Begins!

Posted by Haggadot

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Passover 2012 is done, but the counting has just begun…

The second night of Passover starts the counting of the Omer. This period, which lasts 49 days, ends on the holiday of Shavuot. Traditionally, every evening for seven weeks, one stands and says a blessing followed by the Omer counting (the number changes as each day passes).

Omer refers to the recently harvested grains, which in the days of the Temple were brought as an offering. There is a somber tone to the Omer so you may see traditionalists forgoing weddings and joyous events – even passing on haircuts and shaving – during this period.

An interesting aspect of the counting is that it starts with one and goes UP! One way to look at this time is as a chance to ponder and appreciate what we have – counting our blessings, as it were. There can be many meaningful practices that one might incorporate in to counting the Omer, but it is for sure a time for reflection…another good opportunity!

If you are looking for a friendly guide to counting…this one is from Moses.  


No leaven, but lots of flavor!

Posted by Haggadot

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No leaven doesn’t have to mean no taste. Passover is the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen…and who knows, maybe even start a new holiday tradition! Embrace the spirit of Passover and try baking, cooking or mixing one of these great recipes:

Crunchy Matzah-Coated Chicken

Matzagna (matzah lasagna)

Brisket tacos with matzah tortillas 

Sweet and crunchy quinoa salad

Flourless chocolate lava cake 

Coconut macaroons with lemon curd

Chocolate toffee matzah brittle in the LA Jewish Journal

Posted by Haggadot

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Eileen Levinson's cover design for the Jewish Journal.

Thanks to the Julie Gruenbaum Fax & the LA Jewish Journal for their coverage of today! Be sure to pick up a copy if you live in the area. The cover is a seder plate designed by's creator, Eileen Levinson. And congrats to our contributors, Will Deutsch and Ken Goldman for getting their work featured as well!

How many ways can you ask four questions?

Posted by Haggadot

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On you can find the four questions in many languages, from Croatian to French. Contributors have also shared a wide variety of alternative ways in

which the four questions might be asked. Some have even taken it a step further and added a 5th question. This section of the Seder is a great point for some discussion

around the table. Here are a few clips that can help get the conversation going:

Ma Nishtanah Remembered

Why is this night different?

4 Quotes and 4 Questions

Rhyming Haggadah Four Questions

Four Discussion Questions

Four Questions for Ourselves



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
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Posted by Haggadot

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It’s not the only thing (thankfully!) that we eat at Passover, but there is no question that matzah is THE food of the holiday. Matzah, also known as “the bread of affliction,” is the big symbol at the Seder table. We hold it up in the air for acknowledgement and are required to eat a portion of it…we even hide a piece for the children to find.

There are all types of matzah too; egg matzah, whole wheat matzah, thin matzah, and of course, shmurah matzah. The latter is matzah that has been been hand-made and guarded from start to finish to ensure that it follows the most stringent laws of observance. Whether you spell it matzo or matzah, you can enjoy some of our favorite clips about it:

Never before seen DIY Matzoh Baking

A Moroccan Tradition of Passing the Matzah

Matzah Eating Meditation

If you want to take it a step further, you can always make your own matzah!

Highlighted LA Artist Contributors

Posted by Haggadot

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Adding visually engaging and interactive pieces to your Haggadah helps to promote thoughtful discussion at the Seder table. We are so fortunate to have such an amazing collection of work from so many talented artists on

Here are a few highlights from the Los Angeles creative community:

Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik

Will Deutsch

Marcus J. Freed - Bibliyoga

Hillel Smith

Simone Gad

House of Lions

Jacob Perlin




Children & Teen Supplement

Posted by Haggadot

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If you are searching for some material to make your Haggadah more child/teen friendly, here is a supplement with some great clips from different contributors. This is a fabulous way to make your Seder more accessible and interactive this year!

Child/Teen Supplement  


Do-It-Yourself Seder Ideas

Posted by Haggadot

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Passover is almost here! If you are looking for some easy DIY projects to make this year’s Passover special and put your personal touch on the Seder, check out some of our favorites:


Prelude to Passover

Posted by Jodi R.R. Smith Smith

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Prelude to Passover

Tips for Children at Your Seder Table

Seder, loosely translated, means “order.” But in my house it never quite seemed that way. With 48 guests comprised of 3 generations of relatives and friends, our Seders were more like controlled chaos than an orderly affair. Yet we were always able to finish by midnight. This was because everyone, adults and children alike, knew what was expected of us at the Seder. 

Children have always played an integral part of the Passover Seder. During the beginning of the Seder the Four Questions are chanted by the children at the table. The Seder continues with the story of the Four Sons, which is retold so that its meaning can be understood by all who have gathered. And, of course, the Seder meal can not conclude until after the children have found the Afikomen. 

The key to a successful Seder with children is advanced preparation. Here are some tips to help your family prepare for Passover:

The Week Before the Seder:

  • Have your children help you as you begin to prepare the house for Passover. Use this time together to discuss what Passover is and to share some of your memories of Passover from your childhood.
  • Find an age-appropriate book about Passover to read to your children. Talk about your family’s traditions, whether they match or vary from the information in the book. This book can be brought to the Seder for the children to look at and read when they become fidgety.
  • Begin reviewing the chanting of the Four Questions. The more often your children practice, the more comfortable they will be when reciting in front of the other Seder guests. Have a back-up plan just in case your child gets cold feet. Usually, help from an older sibling is enough to coax the questions out. So be sure to let older children know they might be pinch hitting. 
  • If the Seder is not at your house, check in advance with the hostess about logistics such as mealtime and seating arrangements. This information will help you plan ahead. If the meal will be later in the evening, you should make sure your child has a late lunch or snack. For some children, sitting next to a grandparent or an older cousin can be used as a reward for good behavior through the meal.

The Day of the Seder:

  • Prepare your children for conversations with adults. Younger children should have short answers to questions such as how old they are, what grade they are in, and their favorite book. Older children should be prepared for conversational questions about what they are learning in school, what activities they are involved in and any upcoming plans. You can encourage children who are shy to become family detectives. They can ask relatives questions about family history.  “How are the people in the room are related?”  “How did the family come to America?” Or, they can ask questions that will elicit longer answers such as “What is your favorite Passover memory?” 
  • Remind your children of proper table manners. Review each utensil and its use. Make a game out of it. Have your children practice setting the table with the full setting of flatware. Ask your child what utensil they would choose for a particular food item or course. Doing so will familiarize your children with basic table manners so that they will be more comfortably during the Seder. In anticipation of some ceremonial foods your child might not want to eat, you may want to review what to do with food they do not like. 
  • Discuss with your children what behavior you expect at the Seder table and why it is important they behave in this manner. You may wish to cover when it is appropriate to be excused from the table, how to help clear the dishes, and topics of conversation.
  • Let your children choose what special clothes they will wear to celebrate the holiday. With all of the rules guiding holiday behavior, doing so will allow your children to play a proactive part in the holiday.
  • If you will be guests at a Seder, encourage your children to bring a gift. A picture they have created, or a box of candies (Kosher for Passover, of course), are a thoughtful way to thank your hosts.

While not every child will behave impeccably during the entire Seder, it is important to recall that even the Wicked Son plays an important role in the Seder. A bit of planning and preparation can go a long way in making your Seder as orderly and enjoyable as possible.

Jodi R. R. Smith of Mannersmith is a nationally known manners maven. To ask your etiquette emergency question please visit:



The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners now available!