Welcome to Creating Lively Passover Seders! By David Arnow


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Creating Lively Passover Seders:
A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts & Activities
Second Edition
David Arnow, Ph.D.
Jewish Lights Publishing, Winter 2011 Softcover 415 pages
Cover art by Avner Moriah

Many people want to create a more inspiring and lively Seder. But they don’t have time to sift through the scores of Haggadot and other sources for the engaging material necessary for a truly exciting Seder year after year. Creating Lively Passover Seders is an innovative guide that can help encourage fresh perspectives and lively dialogue. This wide-ranging Haggadah companion offers thematic discussion topics, ideas for simple text studies, activities, and readings that come alive in the traditional group setting of the Passover Seder. Every activity and discussion idea aims to broaden your familiarity with the Haggadah itself, provides new opportunities for engaging the themes of Passover and deepens understanding of the Exodus story. Each chapter revolves around a theme raised by a particular passage from the Haggadah and includes a mix of historical background, interpretation, readings, and activities for the Seder. Rather than reading the entire book from beginning to end, readers are encouraged to focus on one or two chapters each year from which to select activities most suitable for their Seder participants.

Among many other activities you’ll find:

* A re-telling of the Exodus story for children and adults with a “script” for re-enacting the last night in Egypt and the march to Israel
* Suggestions for acting out an ancient midrash about how the Israelites should respond when Egyptian mothers knock on their doors to seek refuge for their children from the last plague
* A discussion based on the original proposal for the Great Seal of the United States depicting the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, versus the final choice—an Egyptian pyramid
* A short story to read aloud about the women in the Bible who played such a key role in the Exodus but whose presence is conspicuously absent from the Haggadah
* An exploration of Elijah’s fascinating transformation from zealot to peacemaker and his role in the Seder
* Readings that explore the critical relationship between Passover, spring and the environment
* A discussion of the Haggadah’s curious omission of Israel from many of its key passages and suggestions for observing the custom of adding a fifth cup of wine to the Seder to celebrate Israel’s rebirth.

Creating Lively Passover Seders inspires Seder participants of all ages to encounter central concepts of Judaism in thought-provoking, stimulating ways. In doing so, the Seder opens up possibilities for more meaningful encounters with Jewish values and traditions that lead well beyond the Seder itself.

A psychologist by training, David Arnow is a long time activist in the Jewish community and a writer whose work has been published widely in Jewish newspapers and scholarly journals. He has written on the Passover Seder for more than a decade.