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Passover or Pesach: Everything your kids are going to ask

No matter what your faith may be, Passover presents the perfect opportunity to expand your kids’ world view by teaching them about other cultures and religions. In the spirit of the season, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the rich traditions that surround this Jewish holiday.

Passover is an eight-day Jewish festival that takes place in spring. This holiday with biblical origins celebrates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. You can share this joyous festival with your children by teaching them about one of the most important holidays in the Jewish faith.

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The basics of Passover

Almost everyone has heard of the Ten Commandments and the parting of the Red Sea. What people may not understand is the deep sense of liberation and faith that are tied to Passover and the freeing of people of Israel from slavery. Teach your children the story of Moses, how he was spared as an infant from the cruel laws of the land, and how God led him to confront the Pharaoh of Egypt. If your children are very young, it’s OK to skim over the plagues that befell the people of Egypt. However, older children, especially if they’ve learned about the Crucifixion, should be able to handle the story of the death of the firstborns. Focus on the determination, faith and bravery that led to the Israelites’ freedom.

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Learn about Passover celebrations

During the eight days of Passover, many rituals are observed. The most well-known is the seder, a special banquet held on the first and second days of Passover. During the seder, specially prepared foods and drink as well as readings allow families to reenact and recall the emancipation of the people of Israel. Kids will be fascinated to know that during Passover, homes, workplaces, lockers and even cars must be rid of chametz, any food made of wheat or other grains that have been leavened. Many processed foods are classified as chametz. In order to remove all traces of chametz from the home during Passover, Jewish families undergo serious spring cleaning.

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Incorporate Passover traditions

Even if your family practices another faith, your children may be interested in learning about Passover. If your family is Christian, present Passover as a tradition that Jesus Christ would have observed. Regardless of your family’s faith, Passover is a beautiful festival inspired by a story of tremendous human courage and perseverance. Incorporate some of the traditions of Passover into your spring routine as a way of teaching your children about the Jewish faith.

  • Share a special meal with your family. Have your children help you prepare the food.
  • Keep kids busy for the afternoon with a Passover-themed activity, like this DIY Elijah’s cup that can be saved and used as a keepsake each year.
  • Spend time together talking about the Exodus. Ask your children questions, such as prompting them to consider how they would feel in the circumstances.
  • Shop for kosher foods with your children. Talk about why unleavened bread is eaten during Passover.
  • Thoroughly spring clean your home, making it a group effort.

Find ways to teach your children more about Passover

Use teaching tools to help share the story of Passover with your children. There are many retellings of Moses and the emancipation of his people. Not all are appropriate for young children. Try the animated film The Prince of Egypt
for a spiritual narrative that features catchy music. Read a book for children, such as Izzy the Whiz and Passover McClean by Yael Mermelstein.

Updated by Bethany Ramos on 4/4/2016

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