Can Passover be saved?
March 25, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Help me have a seder for just me and my eight year old daughter

My father-in-law is not up to holding the family seder this year and my husband has to leave on a week long business trip on Sunday. This came up suddenly so now it's too late to RSVP to the temple's seder. There aren't very many Jews around here to celebrate with, so going elsewhere isn't really an option. I'd like to do something, however modified, to celebrate with my daughter, especially since she loves Passover. (It might just be for the gefilte fish. She's odd like that.)

I'm overwhelmed at the thought of reading the majority of the haggadah myself, so I'm looking for something bare-boned and child friendly. What's the minimum I can do for just that two of us that would still be meaningful?
posted by Ruki to Religion & Philosophy (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you sure it's too late to RSVP to the temple's seder? I bet they could squeeze you in...
posted by Perplexity at 12:30 PM on March 25, 2010

There are Children's Haggadah out there that would be abridged and child-friendly. Could you plan your celebration around one of them?
posted by gnat at 12:33 PM on March 25, 2010

Just sit down together to a basic meal -- whatever you were already going to have for dinner would be fine. You could rustle up some grape juice or sparkling cider, and if you have matzahs that's a bonus. If you want to cook something together, you could google a basic matzoball soup recipe, or charoset. Find a child's hagaddah or "what is passover"-type book -- the big bookstores will have them on hand right now, or maybe you can print something out online. They just sit down, the two of you, talk through it and eat. Light some candles just for the prettiness factor. Sounds really joyous and personal to me. Or, invite a couple of friends to join you. They don't have to be jewish. Just share the meal and the idea of celebration together. (At my house it varies from year to year, but sometimes 75% of our guests are non-jews.)

If you do invite friends and you end up with a few kids, you could also hide the afikomen. You could hide something else if you don't have access to matzoh.

Don't worry about it being perfect or "right," just enjoy it together.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:53 PM on March 25, 2010

There are definitely a bunch of Children's Haggadah that you could use, but I'd call the temple first. Chances are, they will find two spaces for you. That's sort of what Passover is about.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:53 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you anywhere near a university? Usually there's a campus Hillel with a public seder.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:00 PM on March 25, 2010

Another idea is to have some of your non-Jewish friends over and teach them how to do the seder - my friend did this years ago and it was great fun!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2010

invite gentiles! and have them read the questions. that way, your daughter can help answer them for a change.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:06 PM on March 25, 2010

If you're a woman, how about making it a kind of woman seder fete? Invite your daughter's best friend, and her Mom? Then you could get a bit dressed up, share a meaningful meal with some friends, and let your daughter start to experience hosting and explaining parts of her faith and cultural heritage! It could be really fun in this 'off' year without your husband and father-in-law. Or if any of these genders are off -- just invite your daughter's best friend and his/her parents. Make it about sharing with some friends even if they're not particularly close. Explain it like "Thanksgiving traditions" so that they know it's okay to not be Jewish to participate.
posted by barnone at 1:21 PM on March 25, 2010

You probably want to use a haggadah geared for kids. This site has a good one. Illustrating the plagues can also be fun. You can get Playmobil figures for Moses, Pharoh etc. and plastic bugs and frogs. White rice makes decent lice and so on.
posted by caddis at 1:29 PM on March 25, 2010

Can't help with the Haggadah, but do you ever cook with your kid? Could be fun to take the whole day with her and cook all your favorite/traditional dishes together--then eat them as they're ready. Bitter herbs for breakfast might just catch her imagination if she loves gefilte fish.
posted by Mngo at 2:50 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely check with the temple, just to be sure. If there's no luck there, and you can't find anyone else, then go ahead with your daughter. See what she's up to doing. If she's up for learning how to make the seder, it could be a lot of fun. The only problem is how long the seder runs. I'd argue that the main goal should be a seder that your daughter remembers as an enjoyable experience. If she's feeling trapped at the table, and it's only the second glass of grape juice (the Kedem KfP grape juice is like liquid crack, and superior to all other juices), she's not going to look back on it fondly.

Keep her as active a participant as you can, and have her do as much as she's comfortable with. If she's just sitting there, she will get bored. At the same time, singing the prayers (or learning to sing them) was one of the more enjoyable things I did at the seders I attended.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:37 PM on March 25, 2010

How about joining in on the online seder that is streaming live?

Check it out - it could be really cool for you and your daughter!
posted by AngerBoy at 7:39 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much everyone! A very kind MeFite sent me an excellent haggadah for my needs* and it held my daughter's interest. As it turned out, I was needlessly worried about how she would react to the lack of a more formal seder. She had her matzoh, gefilte fish and charoset, so she was happy. Since it was just the two of us, she had the opportunity to ask a lot more than four questions, and I think it deepened her appreciation of the holiday. (Although, after three glasses of Manischewitz, I may have inadvertently given her the impression that Elijah is a zombie...) So, it all worked out just fine!

*The haggadah had a big social justice bent, unlike the more traditional one my FIL uses, so we got to talk about things like racism and homophobia, too. We've never explicitly talked about that before, and she just blew me away with her insights and observations. Even if the seder had been a complete disaster, it would have all been worth it for that.
posted by Ruki at 9:41 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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