Welcome to Creating Lively Passover Seders! By David Arnow

Table of Contents

profile counter

Creating Lively Passover Seders:

A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts & Activities
2nd Edition

 by David Arnow, Ph.D.

Jewish Lights Publishing 

Choose One Chapter a Year and You'll Have Plenty of Ideas for a Great Seder!

Table of Contents


A Dish for the Ages: The Seder Plate
Confused? • Experiment with Your Plate
• A Taste of History
• Why Does This Plate Differ from That One?

The Long Road from Slavery to Freedom:From Ancient Egypt to Our Time
Slavery in Ancient Times • Exodus and the American Ethos
The Great Seal of the United States: Israelites Crossing the Red Sea
versus a
Pyramid • Former Slaves Speak •
Let Freedom Ring: Historic Words on Freedom •
Jewish Values
and Social Justice:American Jews
in the Antebellum South •
Slavery in Our Time

The Four “Questions”: Who’s Asking What and Why?
Engaging Children during the Seder: An Ancient Lesson •
about Questions • The Greek Symposium and
the Jewish Seder •
Why These Particular Questions?

Passover After the Temple: From Sacrifice to Story
Judah the Prince and the Seder • Telling the Story: Some Ancient Advice
“The Medium Is the Message” • Taking Elaboration Seriously
Art Midrash:“Begin with Disgrace and End with Praise”
• Crossing Rivers and Taking Responsibility

Five Super-Sages in B’nei B’rak: Their Times and Teachings
• Banning Rabbi Eliezer • Gamaliel’s Conspicuous Absence:
Fingerprints on the Haggadah

The Four Children: A Seat at the Table for Everyone
The Four Children • Torah versus Haggadah •
The Wise versus the
Wicked: A Recipe for Conflict or
Conflict Resolution? •
Four Voices on Four Children

Hardening Pharaoh’s Heart: The Toughest Part of the Story
The Bible and the Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart •
The Commentators’
Struggle • The Softening of God’s Heart

The Festival of Spring: Reconnecting Passover and Nature
On Spring and Time • The Origins of Passover:Two Views
History Trumps Nature • Activities, Blessings, and Readings

The Exodus as a Personal Spiritual Journey
Exodus:The Spiritual Journey • Milestones along the Road
Crossing the Sea and the First Song • The Journey’s Ultimate Purpose

Enslaved in Egypt: Why?
The Covenant of the Pieces • Israel Enslaved:
Many Questions,
Many Answers • Joseph and the Enslavement?
The Self-Critical Voice: Benefits and Dangers

“Strangers in a Land Not Theirs”: Remembering to Treat the Strangers among Us Justly
 Knowing the Heart of the Stranger •
A Blessing:Treating Strangers
• Two Midrashim on the Stranger •
Two Zionist Leaders on the Stranger

“In Every Generation . . .”? God’s Role in History and the Jewish People’s History among the Nations
God: The Elephant, as It Were, at the Seder •
Arguing with God •
The Sages on Innocent Suffering • Modern Voices

“Go Out and Learn . . .”: How the Haggadah Tells the Story of the Exodus 
How the Haggadah Tells the Story •
The Pilgrims’ Prayer and the
• A Much-Interpreted Phrase • Laban and Pharaoh
Deuteronomy’s Israelite History without Sinai

Women of the Exodus: Redeemed by Their Righteousness 
Passover in an Upside-Down World • Women and the Haggadah:
Missing in Action • The Women of the Exodus in Midrash
• Eden and
Egypt:Two Tales of Exodus • Serakh bat Asher and the Exodus
The Legend of Miriam’s Well •
The Ritual of Miriam’s Cup • Redeemed
through Blood
and Water: Balancing Elijah’s Cup with Miriam’s Cup

The Ten Plagues: Who Suffered and Why?
Plagues Against the Israelites? • Why Spill Wine from Our Cups? •
When Our Enemies Fall • The Plagues and Knowing God • Signs,
Wonders, and Faith: Or Did the Plagues Fail? • Measure for Measure
• Revealing the Creator through Anti-Creation 

Moses in the Haggadah: The Human Role in Redemption
Where’s Moses? • “Not By an Angel . . .” • Why Minimize Moses? • Fresh
Readings:The Haggadah and the Human Role in the Exodus • The Covenantal
Context of Redemption • Righteous Women,Apple Trees and Charoset • Purim
in the Haggadah • In Every Generation • Five Midrashic Voices on Redemption

Dayyenu: It Would Have Sufficed
First Songs:The Song at the Sea and Dayyenu • Roots? • Why Fifteen Divine
Favors? • Dayyenu as Microcosm • Sinai Without Torah:Would It Have Sufficed?

Reliving the Exodus: The Story of the Last Night in Egypt
Setting the Stage • The Last Night in Egypt • Bibliodrama: Knocking
in the Night • Bibliodrama:To Stay or to Leave? • A Prayer for the Journey
• Marching from Egypt to the Promised Land

Israel and the Haggadah
The Fruits of Israel and Egypt: A Puzzle • Israel’s Absence from
the Heart of the Haggadah • Whither Israel? • The Fifth Cup •
Readings for the Fifth Cup • Passover, Messianism, and Israel

The Restoration of Wonder: The Miracles of Egypt and Our Day
The Bible and the Dictionary • The Sages on Miracles • The Restoration of
Wonder • Jewish Voices on Miracles • At the Red Sea: The Horse and Driver

“Blessed Are You . . . Who Redeemed Us”: The Seder of Redemption
The Seder of Hope: Tuning in to Themes of Redemption • Redemption
in the Bible and the Ancient Near East • An Age-Old Question:
Why Did God Redeem the Israelites from Egypt? • The Four Cups of
Redemption • A Quartet of Twentieth-Century Jewish Voices on Redemption
• On Faith in Redemption

Passover without a Seder: The Paschal Sacrifice
Passover in Egypt • In Temple Times • The Passover Rite • Sources on
Sacrifice • Sacrifice in Our Lives Today

Elijah’s Transformation: From Zealot to Folk Hero

Elijah Comes to the Seder • Elijah’s Cup • The Biblical Elijah •
The Elijah Puzzle • Modeling the Potential to Change • A Mirror: A Tale of
Elijah and the Seder • “Pour Out Your Wrath” versus “Give Up Anger” •
More Than Vengence Alone

Two Seder Songs: Echad Mi Yodea and Chad Gadya
Echad Mi Yodea: Mysterious Origins • A Night of Numbers • Counting What
Matters • The Ba’al Shem Tov • Chad Gadya • Inspiration?
• Came the Commentators • Modern Voices
• The Haggadah’s Last Word:A World of Eternal Life

The Exodus from Egypt: The Question of Archeology
History and Story • Five Sage Perspectives on the Exodus and History

Appendix I: Chapter Ten of the Mishnah Pesachim, the Night of Passover
Appendix II: What Is Midrash?
Appendix III: Directions for Art Midrash Projects
Appendix IV: Blessing for the New Moon