Consider the Magid — the telling of the story. Here I’ll advocate for trying something other than the traditional read-aloud. Over the course of my journey as educator, I discovered bibliodrama, where you take a portion of text and jump inside it, becoming anything in the selection. For example, consider the part where the princess discovers Moses: “The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile, while her maidens walked along the Nile. She spied the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to fetch it. When she opened it, she saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it and said, ‘This must be a Hebrew child.’”
What are the nouns in this passage? Pharoah’s daughter, the Nile, the maidens, the basket, the slave girl, the baby. Each of these can provide perspective on the scene. In bibliodrama, we ask questions of these “characters,” for example:
- Nile, what does it feel like to be the cause of death for the Hebrew males?
- Slave girl, what does it feel like to save this one — Moses?
- Reeds, how do you feel about being the one to stop the basket?
Here, the narrative provides the context and the participants around the seder table can answer in their own way, expressing their own emotions.
Here’s another example of a way to engage everyone – a maror tasting. Compare different kinds of maror, like romaine lettuce, endives, and horseradish. How does the level of bitterness compare? Explore how varying amounts of bitterness can transform our lives, and bring about positive change, just like the bitterness in the story helped Jews escape slavery and find freedom.
The seder is ripe with prompts for curated conversation! As you plan this year’s seder, I encourage you to consider ways you can promote discussion and invite participants to get involved. Break away from the tradition of reading the text as a whole and pick snippets that everyone around the table can relate to. It can make the mitzvah of telling the story more engaging, of envisioning what it was like to experience the exodus more meaningful.
This year, the 76th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which took place on Erev Passover, falls on that night again. Click here to read about how you can incorporate this important event in your seder.
If you’re looking for more ways to engage your seder participants, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com to arrange for a conversation.