After several years at the Jewish Enrichment Center, ענפים (Anafim, “Branches” for 3rd-4th grade children) know a lot about פסח (Pesach, Passover). They’re familiar with the major parts of the סדר (Seder, the “Order” of the Passover meal), the items traditionally on the seder plate, connection between the holiday and the text in Exodus 1-15 which describes the Israelites leaving Egypt, and they can join in a rousing rendition of אחד מי יודע (Echad Mi Yodea, “Who knows one”), a favorite traditional song from the seder. But, after a year, some things grow rusty, and brains that another year older are ready to think about the holiday in a little more complexity. So, how do we “activate” פסח (Pesach) in the one or two short weeks before the holiday begins?
Well, this year, we worked together to illustrate a brief guide to the seder,
Explored הגדות (Haggaddot, the books that guide the Seder) to find new details and answer questions we wondered about,
Practiced chanting texts from the Seder,
And heard and discussed some thought-provoking stories about פסח (Pesach).
One story that really caught the attention of ענפים (Anafim) this year was “The Yankee at the Seder,” which tells the true story of a Confederate-sympathizing Jewish family in Virginia who invited a Jewish Union soldier to their Seder just as the Civil War had ended. ענפים (Anafim) wondered how any family could celebrate פסח (Pesach) while supporting the institution of slavery in the United States. And was it really true, as one of the characters claimed in the book, that the suffering of the Egyptians deserved acknowledgement during the seder? Didn’t they deserve the punishments they got? Even if not everyone had personally inflicted pain and suffering on the Israelites, wasn’t everyone in Egyptian society kind of responsible for what their society did as a whole? No, argued some children; a younger generation shouldn’t be punished because of what their parents were doing…
Yup, it seems like we’re ready: ready to sing, eat, celebrate, debate, and question. חג פסח שמח – Chag Pesach sameach! Happy Passover!