Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the highest Jewish holy days. Passover, an ancient 7-day Hebrew observance generally falls in April in the western calendar. In 2016, Passover begins at sundown Friday, April 22 and lasts till Saturday, April 30. On the Hebrew lunisolar calendar (which is based on both moon phases and solar cycles), Passover is celebrated on Nissan 15-22. Here are resources and free printable Passover activities for Jewish kids and parents to explore and celebrate Passover, or Pesach more fully. These activities can help non-Jewish families understand and experience Hebrew traditions, too.
Retell the Passover story. One way all cultures identify with their history is by oral tradition. Retell the centuries-old Passover story: how G-d (Jews do not spell out the name) called Moses to free the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. He sent 10 plagues, the last of which was the death of all first-born male children. But the Angel of Death passed over, and so spared Hebrew children whose homes were marked with the blood of a lamb Long, Long Time Ago has a free printable kid-friendly version of the Passover story. Youtube has several videos on Passover. Here’s a cartoon retelling of Moses and passover and here’s the Cecil B. DeMille 1956 “The Ten Commandments”
Make calendar connections. Calendars are useful math tools which help children visualize sequences and patterns. Chabad has an interactive calendar page that converts between western and Jewish cycles. It also offers Torah readings, prayer guides, Shabbat schedules, candle-lighting, daily Jewish history references and text message calendar apps. Hebcal offers a Hebrew-English calendar converter for cellphone or printable use. This can be customized to include birthdays, anniversaries, Yahrzeit/Yizkor (memorial traditions).
Utilize interactive web activities. There are several website designed just of Hebrew kids. Torah Tots has activities for every Jewish holy day. Here is the Pesach page. There is also weekly parsha (Torah readings) with accompanying activities. Children can play games, print coloring pages, crafts and puzzles, and create holiday-specific greeting cards. Tzivos Hashem Kids! also has online and free printable Hebrew activities for Jewish children, including “The Itche Kadoozy Show” and several other children’s video programs. Both sites have lots of family-friendly resources.
Follow the Sefirat Ha’Omer. The Omer is the 49-day period from the first day of Passover to Shavuot. It covers the seven weeks which it took the Hebrew people to walk from Egypt to the foot of Mt. Sinai. Each day during this period (which is a little like Catholic Lent), the faithful reflect on one of 49 sefirot (traits of the human heart). Torah Tots has free printable charts to help children follow this observance.
Prepare a Seder Meal. In all cultures, food is an important part of festival celebrations. In fact, the word “festival” comes from the root word “feast.” Chabad offers Passover recipes, a Seder guide, plus historical, religious and traditional connections. Though we are not Jewish, I do a Seder meal each year with my family. It has become a special part of our Holy Thursday remembrance. Use the free printable Haggadahs worship guide the kiddush (prayers). Chag Same’ach–Blessed holiday!