Here is a resource for FREE greeting cards, Hagaddah, crafts for children, who play such an important role in the celebration of Passover, online Seder services, and more.
Passover 2023 – or Pesach 5783 – is eight days, starting at Sundown on Wednesday, April 5 through Sundown on Thursday, April 13.
The first two nights are generally when the traditional Seder occurs.
As with most Jewish celebrations, the general theme is this – they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat.
See our complete posting here, with recipes from NY Times, Bon Appetit, My Jewish Learning and more.
FREE Passover Greeting Cards
Chabad.org has free greeting cards for just about any Jewish occasion, including Passover.
Some are meant to be sent by children, others to be received by children, and there are also free Seder invitations.
Chabad.org also has full list of singalong Passover holiday songs, including Dayenu (It Would Have Been Enough) with lyrics in both English and Hebrew, and a step-by-step guide for creating your own Seder.
FREE Passover Hagaddah
The Hagaddah tells the story of the Exodus, with prayers and songs to follow.
Kveller (kvell is Yiddish for being proud; a kveller is someone who kvells to family and friends) is another great Jewish information site, with a kid-friendly Hagaddah to download.
The Kveller Haggadah describes Jewish traditions in a kid-friendly way, with a design and message appealing to anyone at a seder, whether or not there are kids at the table.
There’s also matzoh themed pajamas in case the family Seder runs late.
ReformJudaism.org offers eight different family Haggadot (plural of Haggadah) recommended by the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism and the staff of the Union for Reform Judaism.
More resources for FREE Hagaddot –
- Hebrew/English Haggadah, from Chabad
- Coloring Book Haggadah
- Contemporary Haggadah from JewishBoston.com
- Build-Your-Own Haggadah
- Haggadah for children with special needs from JGateways.com
A full Seder can take a couple of hours. For those who want something shorter, here is a ten-minute seder, which includes all the high points, including the Ma nishtanah – the Four Questions – and the four glasses of wine.
It would never have been considered by my father’s Orthodox uncle, Uncle Max, who insisted on the full Seder reading.
Luckily, his wife, my beloved Tanta Lina (Tanta is German for aunt; the Yiddish version is Tante) took pity on us hungry kids and snuck us bits of food in the kitchen. We never knew if Uncle Max knew, but he probably did, because he always smiled when we returned to the dining room table from the kitchen.
They lived a few blocks from Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers played. When the windows were open in baseball season – and they were, because those were the days before air conditioning – I loved hearing the roar of the crowd when one of my idols pitched a strike or batted in a base hit or home run.
FREE Passover Books, Games, Activities,Podcasts
PJ Library is a trusted resource for Jewish families in more than 35 countries who receive free books each month, along with games, activities and audio stories of Jewish life.
There’s also a specific PJ Passover page online, which includes:
- Kid-friendly, printable recipe cards for homemade matzo, matzo trail mix and matzo pizza
- Downloadable games and activities such as a DIY Seder plate and a Passover card game
Also for kids, aish.com offers Passover coloring books and games like “Family Fun With the Ten Plagues”.
FREE Webinar on How Long Hebrews Were Slaves in Egypt
The Children of Israel were enslaved for hundreds of years in Egypt, but for how long and why does this matter?
Join this special Passover study session on Zoom to explore the timeline of the Jews in Egypt, from Abraham to Moses.
It is led by Rabbi Aviad Bodner, who serves as Rabbi of Congregation Ramath Orah on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He earned an LLB in Law from Bar Ilan University and received his semicha from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Before Ramath Orah, he served as Rabbi at Stanton Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side of NYC for five years and also serves as Mashgiach Ruchani (Spiritual Advisor) at the Ramaz Upper School and teaches in the Tanach, Talmud and JLT departments.
The webinar is Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30pm EDT, sponsored by the Museum at Eldridge Street, the restored historic museum on the Lower East Side that is now a cultural center, museum and also still a synagogue.
NYC’s Temple Emanu-el, the largest synagogue in New York City and perhaps the entire USA, hosts free online Sabbath services every Friday evening – including on the first night of Passover.
Services are broadcast on the temple’s website and Facebook page. Download a free prayer book first.
My Jewish Learning is hosting an online seder on the second Seder night for those unable to attend one in person.
It’s hosted by Rabbi Moishe Steigmann, the founder of Own Your Judaism, a Milwaukee-based organization that hosts learning, celebrating, life-cycles event, and coaching programs. He is also Rabbi at Congregation Cnesses Israel in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He received his rabbinic ordination and a master’s degree in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS).
Sign up here for tickets, priced at $18 for an individual and $36 for a family.
If you can’t gather in person with family and friends,
These tips are from Chabad, which has an entire website page of instructions for online gatherings.
- Set the Shabbat table early, so that you can show Oma and Pop-Pop what it’s going to look like.
- Bathe and dress the kids before you start streaming so that they can be fully present (and super cute) when they are on camera.
- If you are in different time zones, make sure to start early enough so that whoever lives furthest to the east will be able to sign off before candle-lighting arrives in their time zone.
- While the Passover mitzvahs (eating matzah and marror, drinking four cups, telling the story of Exodus) must be done on Passover, dipping the karpas in salt-water may be symbolically done earlier, so you can do that together over Zoom.
An added bonus: Since the Seder begins after sunset, which is past the usual bed-time for very young, a suggestion is to have a pre-Seder Zoom conference on a different day. That would allow the kids to be seen by long-distance grandparents when they are not yet over-tired and cranky.
The Story of Passover
Passover commemorates the biblical story of Exodus, when Hebrew slaves were freed from bondage in Egypt, led by Moses.
The story is told in the Book of Exodus, Chapters 1-15 – also in the memorable Hollywood epic The Ten Commandments. Passover is a celebration of freedom and survival, and the story of the Exodus is also claimed by Christians and Mormons.
When the Israelites were freed, legend has it that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for their bread dough to rise, which is why leavened – or raised – bread is avoided during Passover, including elminating it from the breadbox at home.
Instead, it is replaced by matzoh (also spelled matzo or matzah), a flat, unleavened bread.
The first night of Passover begins with the Seder, the ceremonial meal featuring six symbolic foods on a plate, eaten during the telling of the story of the Exodus, in the Haghaddah, the special Passover prayer book.
Even the name Passover has significance – this is when Jews gathered to avoid final of ten plagues – the killing of firstborn males. Jews marked their houses with a smear of animal blood, so the Angel of Death would pass over them – hence Passover.
Each item on the Seder plate each represent something about the story of bondage –
- Shank bone (zeroa): a roasted bone that represents the lamb sacrifice made by the ancient Hebrews.
- Boiled/roasted egg (beitzh): stands in place of a sacrificial offering performed in the days of the Second Temple
- Bitter herb (maror): Horseradish is commonly used, but any bitter herb will work. It refers to the bitterness of slavery.
- Charoset: A sweet mixture of apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon, which represents the mortar the Hebrew slaves used to make bricks.
- Parsley (karpas): A leafy green vegetable, usually parsley, dipped into salt water or vinegar, symbolizing the tears of the slaves.
- Hazaret: A second bitter herb, with the same symbolism as Maror.
Other elements of the Seder include – that you might have heard about:
- Four glasses of wine are consumed, one for each of four special prayers (juice for the kids and for non-drinkers).
- Matzoh, unleavened bread, is a big part of Passover. It reminds us of the haste with which the Jews left Egypt.
- The Afikomen is a piece of Matzoh broken off during the Seder and hidden. The children look for it and return it for a reward.
- The Four Questions: traditionally, the youngest child recites the “four questions,” which cover the basics of why Passover is special and important. All four questions begin with the same one – why is this night different from all other nights.
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!
SHANA HABA B’ YERUSHALAYIM
This article was published in 2022 and updated for 2023.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA) and is a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)
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