Creating Lively Passover Seders: A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts & Activities

2nd Edition David Arnow, Ph.D., Jewish Lights Publishing, 2011
Softcover, 415 pages, ISBN: 978-1-58023-444-3
Kindle Edition
Cover art by Avner Moriah

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 • Questions 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 Justly • 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 Haggadah • 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 Vengeance 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