Friday, April 6, 2012

Passover - The Innovative Holiday?

Guest post by Jacob Gutnicki

Every year around Passover jews across the world hold their annual meal (the seder) during which families get together, socialize, and recount the story of Exodus. It is an interesting holiday to say the very least. More than any other holiday, great effort is made to integrate children into the tradition of Passover. The meal starts with festivities that include children asking the 4 questions, dipping potato in saltwater, retelling the exodus, eating bitter herbs, and singing songs. The meal then climaxes with the Chad Gadya (silly song about a goat). If that is not enough we drink while leaning to our left on a pillow and try to find the afikamon (unleavened bread).

Needless to say my children are always very excited about the meal. My son told me that he was going to steal the afikamon from me. Its no wonder it is the most celebrated holiday; even more than Yom Kippur. To those familiar with these rituals none of this comes as a surprise. In fact it is well known that the Passover meal is designed to arouse children’s curiosity about the holiday. This is why we eat unusual foods, dip potatoes in water, and so on. I remember how my own childhood experiences were filled with similar joyful activities and how it was a time for families to come together. I also remember how some of our other holidays/rituals were observed as a 12-step program.
As I reflect on this holiday, it makes me think why stop at Passover? Why not celebrate all our holidays in this manner? Why not explore all of our traditions in this manner. For this reason, I am thankful that my wife decorates the house for Chanukah with festive lights, encourages our children to paint their menorahs, play with their draidels, and of course enjoy their jelly doughnuts. I am thankful that my son’s Hebrew School takes him to a matzo factory, holds Purim parades, and hosts other engaging activities. I am also thankful that my parents always worked tirelessly to make the holiday festivals and rituals special and fun. I am also thankful for the time I interned with the BJE and was exposed to a plethora of techniques/activities that bring Judaic experiences to life. With respect to this, I remind myself to always take the time and effort to foster an engaging environment for all of my children’s activities and make every holiday, ritual, and learning activity as special as Passover. Last but not least; Chag Sameach!!

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