Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make Passover 2014 Fun

I was inspired by a workshop I attended last Shabbat by the very talented Jewish educator Noam Zion. For well over a decade, I've been using his haggadah ("A Different Night") and his son Mishael Zion's haggadah ("A Night to Remember") to inspire my students to think about the Four Children in new and different ways through art.

Noam Zion, who teaches at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, is an advocate for making the Passover Seder more fun. I couldn't agree more. If we seder leaders make the experience more enjoyable and fun for the seder participants, they will get more out of it and look forward to the holiday more in the years to come. Some of the tried and true seder activities like "The Plagues Bag" will continue to work well for younger children, but after a few years of showing the little toys that represent each of the plagues, it will likely be time to try some new tricks. In that vein, I've put together a list of ways to make not just the seder, but the entire Passover holiday more fun.

Passover Seder Steps game from Holidays in a Box

Ellen Zimmerman of "Jewish Holidays in a Box" has come out with a new children's game for the seder called Passover Seder Steps Follow-Along. The new activity is designed to help families have more fun and keep everyone more engaged from beginning to end of the Passover Seder. The game comes with 5 gloss-coated boards, 5 game pawns and instructions for use. It's available from for $12.97 and can also be downloaded as a mobile app (the digital version is under $6). Inspired by her daughter's creation when she was 8-years-old, Zimmerman redesigned it to show the progression from step to step (using stone imagery) of the seder. The game is a great teaching tool and will help keep everyone at the table engaged.

Pop Haggadah for Passover
Artist Melissa Berg's Pop Haggadah for Passover

Each year I acquire a new Passover haggadah to add to my ever growing collection. This year's favorite is the Pop Haggadah by Melissa Berg. This bright and colorful haggadah is one of the best I've seen in years. The different fonts and artwork on every page make it an exciting haggadah to thumb through or use at the seder. It's honestly perfect for both of children and adults, which is odd when it comes to haggadot. Melissa Berg, who is an artist and has worked in the marketing and filmmaking industries, really hit a homerun with this haggadah. Each section of Berg's haggadah has the traditional Hebrew with English translations, but even these texts are considered artwork. Each vibrant page is a surprise with completely different colors and designs. To borrow a term from the graphic design world: The Pop Haggadah really pops! As a bonus, Berg has included many "extras" on the Pop Haggadah website that can be used for seder activities.

Bronfman Haggadah App
Bronfman Haggadah App from the late Edgar Bronfman and his wife Jan Aronson

Last Passover, my favorite haggadah was the Bronfman Haggadah and this year I was excited to be able to download the Bronfman Haggadah App. The mobile app version of the haggadah has been available in the Apple App Store ($8.99) for about a month and is really a wonderful way to honor the life of the late Edgar Bronfman. The app, like the hardcover haggadah, is full of Bronfman's interpretations of the Egyptian exodus along with the beautiful artistic representations his wife, Jan Aronson, created. For those who won't feel comfortable using an iPad at the seder table, the mobile app version of the Bronfman Haggadah can be used to prepare the seder leader to lead a seder with the print version. Aronson said, "I am so delighted that the Bronfman Haggadah continues to have a life in the eBook format. It was a joy to bring this to life with my late husband Edgar." The app can be downloaded from the App Store.

Matzah iPhone Case (also available for Samsung Galaxy)
Sealed with a Case's matzah version of the iPhone case

For a fun way to show off your love of matzah (or just that you're excited that Passover is coming this Monday night), I think the Motzah iPhone case is great. My kids have all been showing off their matzah cases over the past couple of weeks and their friends want to know where they can get them too. Designed in her Massachusetts home studio by Amanda of Sealed with a Case and sold in her Etsy shop, she jokes that the iPhone cases are kosher for Passover. Melissa sells the Motzah cases, which are durable and lightweight, for the iPhone 4/4S and 5, as well as the Samsung Galaxy. They're available with black, clear or white sides.


I usually try to avoid the addictive games like Angry Birds, Flappy Birds and Candy Crush, but I tried playing the mobile app game called 2048 Puzzle just once and I was addicted. The numbers puzzle created by Gabriele Cirulli was created using open source code meaning others can create their own versions of "2048" and that is exactly what user ajmyk did with the Had Gadya version for Passover. Available online, the Had Gadya version attributes the puzzle pieces to the famous Passover song Chad Gadya sung toward the conclusion of the seder in place of the numbers. The creator adds a disclaimer to the bottom of the puzzle stating, "A complete ripoff of Gabriele Cirulli's MIT-licensed 2048, which was based on 1024 by Veewo Studio and conceptually similar to Threes by Asher Vollmer." Enjoy... and if you get addicted, I apologize!

Other fun ideas to make your 2014 Pesach more fun include downloading JDate's new haggadah (its 2nd annual) available from the App Store, getting together before the holiday to make your own DIY haggadah, drink some seder themed cocktails, sing some Passover song parodies at your seder, and of course watching dozens of groups of people create their own Passover video parodies to the same song from the movie frozen. Okay, here's the best one:


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