When our kids were young we joined with close friends who also had two kids in the same age bracket and started a yearly tradition of holding a Passover meal coupled with a Christian communion service. The Passover meal is considered to be the meal celebrated with Jesus and his Apostles on Holy Thursday. Celebrating the Passover traditions and coupling it with Christian rituals is an enriching experience for people in the Christian tradition and connects us to our Jewish roots. Our children always enjoyed this special evening but we haven’t done it in a long time.
Two of our daughters, now both 32 years old and married with young boys were interested in doing this again. The grandparents – on both sides – felt great that the girls remembered this so fondly and wanted their children to experience it but we were concerned about how it would work with a 2 (James) and 3 (Zach) year old. We liked the idea and decided to proceed cautiously and be flexible.
Fortunately, the other grandmother, Joan, was a Kindergarten teacher for over 25 years and had resources and a good sense of what would work. Joan had a Passover flap book and she put together a script for the meal and ceremony using this book and other resources.
We gathered at our house at 4 PM. It was the first time the boys were meeting each other and they had some play time together.
Then we went to the living room and each family of three generations sat together. Joan read the Passover book and each boy took turns opening the flaps. They sat and listened attentively. Then we went to the dining room table for our own Passover. The adults had the script and we took turns reading. The table had two platters with the Passover foods. The boys had small wine glasses with cranberry juice and the adults had wine.
As we described each food the boys had a chance to sample the various foods. James especially liked the parsley dipped in salt water and Zach like chopped apples/nuts that James’ grandfather had made. They drank their juice as we drank our wine.
Both boys went together to open the front door. And they each found an afikomen hidden in the living room.
After the Passover service, we enjoyed a family meal together – two families – now three generations together. Bonding in a special way and as Joan says – there were so many modalities for learning for the boys – listen, touch, smell and taste.
This was such a wonderful experience for our families - I really can't overrate it. I am so glad that we started this 25 years ago and re-initiated it last weekend. 10 people, 2 families, 3 generations celebrating and enjoying a religious and historically cultural experience together. Joan made it PERFECT. She knew exactly the way to engage two young children and make them enjoy and be an integral part of this experience.
I am writing this today to encourage you to adapt your religious and spiritual rituals for the young children in your families and to establish traditions. I am a tradition buff – but always willing to adapt them to new realities of life. The grandparents in this group were surprised but proud and elated that our kids wanted to pass on the tradition that we started with them and I wish you well with your own traditions. Please share them in the comments.
Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14
New Testament: John 13:1-17, 31b-35