web analytics
July 3, 2015 / 16 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


A Child-Centric Seder

Neuman-033012-seder-table

Dear Gary,

As Pesach approaches, I get worried because I want to have a great Yom Tov, and yet, every year, the seder ends in some sort of fighting and arguing. My husband wants the seder to be all about divreiTorah and so do I, but between the younger children (who we want to be awake for the whole seder) and guests, we somehow end up in stern looks and squabbles. I’m happy we have guests or else we’d probably start yelling at each other and even Eliyahu Hanavi would bail. I know everyone jokes about how tough Pesach is, but I can’t see the humor anymore – and neither can my children. What can we do to manage a calm (I don’t even wish for happy) seder?

A Sad Mom

Dear Sad Mom,

You are far from being alone in the scenario you describe. Imagine the request: a serious reliving of our yetzia (exodus) – knowing that every additional minute spent in serious discussion is praiseworthy – mixed with a need to eat enormous amounts of unusual foods (matzah and marror to name a few), along with a lack of normal food being eaten until hours into the event which begins well after most children’s bedtimes. Oh yeah, and let’s drink a lot of alcohol. But, it’s all about the kids.

Most families struggle when it comes to the sedarim, and with good reason. The seder for a 6-year-old is a completely different experience then for a 16-year-old and even more different for an adult, family member or guest. We rarely ever put all of those people together in one place, expect them all to do the same things and sit for the same amount of time. Too often, it is a recipe for anger and disappointment, which is so unfortunate because we work so hard to prepare for Pesach. To work that hard and be met with a sense of failure can be overwhelming.

The answer (note that I am not writing as a halachic authority) lies in envisioning how you want yourself and your children to look back at the seder night. Like with every mitzvah, parents have to consider the age of their children and how each one will react to the experience. If both you and your husband think about how you want to feel when you wake up Yom Tov morning, you will be well on your way to a better chag.

Sometimes, we get caught up in what we think or have been taught is “right” or “necessary,” and lose sight of what will actually be a healthy spiritual experience. We want our children to look forward to the seder and have positive associations, not memories of family distress. Here are some simple ideas people have suggested to me over the years. Consider these ideas and if you have any halachic questions about any of them, consult your local authority.

1. Feed younger children before the seder begins. Typically the seder begins late – especially on the second night – and it takes a while to see real food. Hungry children are not easygoing children. Feed them earlier so that they are not starving at the start of the seder.

2. Make it about the kids. The Mah Nishtana, the afikomen and so much of the Hagaddah tells us to be festive and engage in childish behavior – if it is with the purpose of teaching and learning. There are songs you can download that are fun spirited. Act out the different parts of the story as you read them. Kids (and adults) can dress up as different characters.

Play charades – create a stack of Judaic situations (Moshe and the burning bush, Avraham smashing his father’s idols, Rivkah giving Esav’s clothes to Yaacov) and then have teams act it out, with everyone else guessing what is being depicted. Do this at different times during the seder.

Have the younger kids grouped together at one end of the table, so if there is a serious discussion taking place, they can be doing something else.

Have small prizes for kids and young teens who ask any legitimate question. This idea can really generate great discussions. If a kid gets a small prize every time he or she asks a question (it doesn’t have to be a great one, just one that isn’t silly), that child feels a part of the seder and is adding something real. Often the adults can answer or consider the questions, which creates an excitement in the child.

3. Let all your guests know before the seder begins what special things you will be doing so everyone can take part.

About the Author: M. Gary Neuman is a psychotherapist, rabbi, and New York Times best-selling author. He is the creator of NeumanMethod.com video programs for marriages and parenting.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Child-Centric Seder”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
United Nations Building, New York City
The United Nations Has Israel’s Blood On Its Hands
Latest Judaism Stories
Neihaus-070315

Without a foundation, one cannot hope to build a structure.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Why do we have a parsha in Sefer Shemos named after Yisro who was not only a former idolater, but actually served as a priest for Avodah Zarah!

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Daf-Yomi-logo

This Land Is ‘My’ Land
‘[If The Vow Was Imposed] In The Seventh Year…’
(Nedarim 42b)

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible’s answer is surprising and profound.

What’s the nation of Israel’s purpose in the world? How we can bring God’s blessings into the world?

“Is there a difference between rescuing and other services?” asked Ploni.

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

Amalek, our ultimate foe, understood that when unified, we are invincible and indestructible.

Perhaps on a deeper level, the mitzvah of parah adumah at this junction was not just to purify the body, but the spirit as well.

More Articles from Rabbi M. Gary Neuman
Neuman-Rabbi-M-Gary

Are we allowed to lie for shalom bayis? It would seem so, but what might be a healthy guideline for when it’s okay and when it’s not?

Neuman-Rabbi-M-Gary

Sacrifice is the backbone of our souls. It indicates self-regulation for a higher purpose.

Spoiler Alert: Going to see the movie “Saving Mr. Banks”, starring Tom Hanks is not like going to Disney World. Well, it is like going to Disney World if you go mid-August with your triplet toddlers, feed them all cotton candy, and lose your car because you forgot you parked in Pluto 7.394. It’s not a happy Disney movie.

Stacy and George walked out of the marriage counselor’s office angrier than when they arrived. It was their third session and this last fight over his ex-wife wasn’t going away. The fifty minutes spent embroiled in a detailed account of their battle only fired up their anger – and the counselor’s request to remember how much they love each other wasn’t helping. It would be a week before the next session and both of them were already talking about not coming back.

The therapeutic alliance has always been about a firm connection between patient and counselor. There has always been one primary standard – physically meeting in an office setting. There might be some phone calls in between sessions or to bridge some vacation gap. But therapy has always been about a feeling of connectivity and there is no better way to do this than face-to-face.

Cindy is 43, successful, attractive, a dedicated mom, extremely caring… and she hates herself. She doesn’t readily admit this, but spend a minute inside her head and you’ll discover the resounding messages revolving around negative rants – everything from “I failed” to “I should’ve done better.” You wouldn’t know it from her behavior. She’s a high functioning, regular member of society.

As adults who were children of divorce know, healing does not occur through time alone. In fact, my research found that only 46% said they had a positive relationship with their fathers as adults.

Stacy and Michael walked out of the marriage counselor’s office angrier than when they arrived. It was their third session and this last fight over his ex wife wasn’t going away. The fifty minutes embroiled in a detailed outline of the battle only fired up their anger and the counselor’s request to remember how much they love each other wasn’t helping. It would be a week before the next session and both of them were already talking about not returning for therapy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/a-child-centric-seder/2012/03/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: