Last week I suggested that you integrate choreography commemorating Miriam at the Seder "Half-Time." This week I'm going to start with the beginning of the Seder by opening up a window to a wonderful Italian custom. It's a Mama Mia one in every sense of the word. It reflects joy, anticipation and is "performed" by Mama.
Among many Italians it is customary not to have the Seder plate positioned on the table, waiting for the guests to arrive. Instead, the guests stand behind their chairs, waiting for the Seder plate to make its grand entrance -- and a grand entrance it is. Covered with netting, it is carried in by an honored elder -- usually the woman of the house. She places it down with great flourish. Sometimes the guests sing songs as she places the Seder plate at the head of the table and removes the netting.
Definitely a fun way to begin the seder. Why stop here? Continue the Seder grand opening by mixing 'n matching customs. Go to page 16 of my book Passover Around the World.
You'll discover a custom performed by Turkish Jews. It's a playful play and a wonderful way to draw children in to actively participate in the Seder.
While the Haggadah tells the story of our Exodus from Egypt, the trick is keeping children engaged in order to absorb the meaning of this holiday. There are loads of ways, many of which are found in my book. In the meantime, I'll be back next week with another fun Italian custom that I've just discovered.
To all parents and teachers -- Happy Seder Planning!