When our children were young we had a tradition with our friends of having a seder 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 religious roots.
Once our daughters had children, they were interested in reviving that tradition even though the children were pre-schoolers. The grandparents put our heads together and divide up the preparation tasks to make this all work smoothly. I enjoy preparing a beautiful table laid out with everything needed for the seder.
Our friend, Joan was a kindergarten teacher and so she was in charge of a pre-service explanation and she used a flap book (kids love flap books) to describe the seder for them. I wrote about our first Seder with our grandsons in this 2013 post.
They are older now so this year Joan used an illustrated book of bible stories for children and read the Exodus and Last Supper stories. Our friends have a new granddaughter and I just bought a board book – entitled “My First Seder” and so her parents flipped through that with her too. We don’t want to leave anyone out as a seder is supposed to include the whole family. The boys are old enough now to remember some of the aspects of the seder and look forward to participating in them. Having this educational element before the seder makes it more meaningful for the children.
We have a script we use for the seder itself and the boys still enjoy opening the door for Elijah and finding the hidden afikomen. I am calling it a script rather than the Hebrew Haggadah because it incorporates Christian elements. The boys' juice is in stemware and so they participate in the four sips of wine. My grandson reads when it is his turn (he is in second grade) and I am grandmotherly impressed with his ability to read words like horseradish without any assistance.
After the Seder service, we enjoy a meal together – 2 families, 3 generations celebrating and enjoying a religious and historically cultural experience together.
I encourage you to adapt your religious and spiritual rituals for the young children in your families and to establish traditions. Our grown children love the traditions they experienced as young children and now I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate these traditions with our grandchildren.
Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14
New Testament: John 13:1-17, 31b-35