When I was asked to teach an entire year on Pesach I immediately got very excited. Pesach is my favorite holiday for many reasons. To me, Pesach is telling a story, seeing family, missing family, history, songs, exhaustion, and joy. After scouring through many resources, my big question was how am I going to weave this all together? That was when the idea for a haggadah was born.
This year, your children embarked on an in depth learning adventure of why we do all of the things we do on Pesach. We did not touch much on the actual story of the Exodus to be honest because it is a story they were familiar with. I wanted them to know why we have four cups of wine, what breaking the Afikomen represents, why do we ask four questions, and who are these four children we talk about every year? Every year we as diaspora Jews sit through and participate in two Seders, doing all of these things, but unless you are a student of Talmud and Mishnah, you don’t always necessarily know why. That was my goal, to answer the why.
I started out the year by telling them something my grandfather started every Seder with. “Pesach is a living holiday.” This means that at any given moment you can open up the newspaper and you will find a story of freedom, of survival, of faith, of hope. That is what our exodus was. It is a story that continues to be told over and over again.
If you look at a haggadah, in almost all of them you will find various comments and quotes to supplement the haggadah, to give some thought and insight into the seder. This was what your children did. While you may not see assignments at every part, we did discuss them all in depth. For instance, when we talked about the 10 makkot (the 10 plagues) there was no assignment, rather in class we talked about each plague and why one was harsher than the next, the slow progression of hardening Pharaoh’s heart. When we discussed the four cups of wine we discussed and explored the many reasons we do this, and each of your children wrote about the one that they connected with the most. We found in the Torah where the Four Children come from and each of them explored those characters deeper and drew their own.
This haggadah is a true representation of what we did in class this year, either through midrash created by the students or sharing with you the resources that I used to teach from. When reading this haggadah with your children, ask them questions about their drawings, their thoughts, their stories. This is an interactive holiday. This was a fun and different Hebrew school experience that I enjoyed and I hope that you and your families will enjoy using this unique haggadah for years to come.
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