The search for chametz is carried out ...... [the night before Pesach].
What is chametz, literally?
At what other times of the year do we do a search and for what? [We search our souls during the month of Elul and during the Ten Days of Penitence between Rosh Hashanah - the New Year - and Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. We are seeking our imperfections, wrongdoings - metaphorical chametz - and resolving to make things right.]
Is there a time when we also refer to "crumbs"? [Yes, during the "Tashlich" ceremony on Rosh Hashanah, when the crumbs we throw in the flowing water during the prayer represent our sins.] Discuss the symbolic references, freedom of choice & responsibility.
You will need: Toldor Jewish / General History chart; Atlas of Jewish History; large index cards or squares cut from poster board; a roll of brown paper.
"And [Jacob] went down to Egypt ... and we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt"
Using an Atlas of Jewish History, find other examples of movement of the Jewish people which has led either to enslavement or to being held "captive" in any corner of the globe in ancient and modern times.
What was the fate of the Jewish people in that country and time - did they manage to free themselves?
In pairs or threes, make a history card for each event while other pairs prepare sections of a time-line to go around the walls. Pin the cards on in their correct position and allow time for the group to walk around.
Discuss the relative elements of each event - the limitations of freedom; the process of liberation; the cultural, demographic and emotional impact. What is the significance of the People of Israel's 40 years of wandering in the desert between the Exodus and the time they entered the Promised Land?
- Diaries and Letters
Each participant or group writes a letter to a friend or a diary page in one of the following three roles. Select a few to be read out loud and discussed.
- A child due to flee Egypt with his or her family that night - what do you feel, what do you know, what are you taking with?
- A young Jew about to return to Eretz Yisrael with his or her family from the Babylonian Exile, where they lived comfortably.
Hint: why have you decided to leave with the prophet Ezra, how do you feel about the impending departure, what do you know about the future awaiting you in Eretz Yisrael?
- A young Jew living in a small village in Israel in Temple times, whose family is going up to Jerusalem for the Pesach festival.
Hint: what does Jerusalem mean to you and your family, where are you going to stay, what are you going to do there, how do you feel about your journey [on foot and by donkey]?
- A young boy/girl standing at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah. Hint: what did you see, hear, feel? What were your first and most profound impressions?
There is a tradition of sitting at the Seder table as if dressed for a journey, in order to bring home the closeness of the Exodus to all the family.
During your mock Seder, at your club or on Seder night at home, have two people disappear at some point and dress up as if for a journey, with packs on their backs and walking sticks. Only one person at the Seder table is "in the know". When the two reappear, the dialogue begins, led by those who have been prompted, but open to all:
Seated: Who are you?
Travelers: We are the People of Israel
Seated: Where have you come from?
Travelers: From Egypt
Seated: Where are you going?
Travelers: To Eretz Yisrael
- The Four Sons
In four groups, each group draws an abstract profile for one of the Four Sons and then proposes "candidates" from contemporary life for their Son, defining what he [or she] would say and how the "father" [or "mother"] should respond to their problem.
Play out one choice for each son with the responses and discuss in the context of the generation gap and Pesach!
LEVELS OF PARTICIPATIONThe activities below are designed for young people and have been adapted by Barbara Weill from the French edition of PESSACH HADRACHA, published by the Youth & Hechalutz Department.
These four games have been selected for their "dive" into the nitty gritty of the theme and because they are both stimulating and entertaining. Allow between 5 and 15 minutes each time, depending on group size and enthusiasm!
Concentric Circles: Egyptians dialogue the Hebrew slaves
Divide the group into two and seat them in facing concentric circles, so that pairs are formed between the Egyptians [inner circle] and the Hebrews [outer circle].
Below are five ideas for discussion in the pairs - you can add your own. Give each pair a topic and tell them they have 2 minutes to play out their dialogue in role from when you call "GO!".
When you call "STOP!", have the inner circle move around one seat to the right [clockwise], while the outer circle moves around one seat to the left [anti-clockwise]. Now, call "GO!", again and have everyone continue their conversation as if nothing had happened and on the same topic.
Call "STOP!" and have the pairs guess what each other's topic was - who managed to work it out?
Bring everyone together again if you want to review.
List of Topics
Round the Chair
- The enslavement of the Hebrews by Pharaoh
- Should Pharaoh allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt?
- My daily life in Egypt and how I feel about it
- My experience of the Ten Plagues
- What I think of Moses' personality
The leader stands on a chair in the middle of the room with the group standing near him or her.
Optional: Tape recorder and music playing.
The leader calls "GO!" and the group has to walk around this central figure; the leader then calls out the name of a personality associated with Pesach - changing this every minute or so - and the group must walk in the manner of the character named. You will need about 10 characters.
List of characters: Identity Cards
- A slave
- Child looking for the Afikoman
- A matza baker
- A parent looking for chametz
- An Egyptian going into the Red Sea
- Moses leading the people in the desert...
Ahead of time, prepare cards with the names of characters from the story of the Exodus and the Haggadah - see list below.
Pin or stick a card on the back of each participant, who then has to guess his or her identity by asking questions of other participants - but answers can only be in the form of "yes" or "no".
When everyone has guessed their personality, form groups [3-5 participants] and have them build sketches involving their characters.
List of personalities:
- The Four Sons
- Pharaoh's daughter...
There are many expressions connected to Pesach [in English or Hebrew] which comprise two words or ideas [see list below]. Make up cards with expressions and cut them in two, between the words. You may use the lexicon and the Haggadah to find more examples.
Give each participant a piece of card. Have the group move around the room calling out their word and looking for the partner who is their "other half".
Option: play in the dark or with eyes closed.
List of expressions:
- Counting / the Omer
- Bedikat / Hametz
- Matza / shemurah
- Unleavened / bread ...
CARDS & RANKING EXERCISEGoal:
Discussion in greater depth of the significance of Pesach as perceived by the participants.
Each participant will need 15 playing card sized peices of paper or poster board and a pencil.
Prepare lists of Pesach topics. Procedure:
- Distribute paper, pencils and lists.
- Explain that this is an exercise where one's personal opinion is important and that there are no right or wrong answers.
- Each participant chooses 15 items from the list which seem significant in terms of Pesach and writes one down on each card.
- Each participant now selects what seem the three least significant of the 15 in terms of celebrating Pesach and sets them aside for later. Allow 5 minutes.
- Divide participants into small groups [4-6].
- Have each group now look at the 3 cards each person has chosen and discuss why this choice was made.
- The groups now have to choose their 3 "most significant" items and note their reasons for doing so.
- Bring everyone back together. In between each presentation, sing a Pesach song!
- Discuss briefly:
- why we celebrate Pesach today?
- how we can preserve the most important elements of the Festival today.
Enhance understanding of the motives behind the major characters of the Pesach story and make the historical facts relevant today.
Bible [Book of Exodus], any short history of Pesach, Haggadah. Optional: film, "The Ten Commandments" - use selected sections only.
The group is divided into a panel of three personalities - Moses, Aaron and Pharaoh - who can also be played by the counselors, and a group of journalists.
Allow time for journalists to prepare Press Cards and questions to the panel, while the panel may compose a short press statement.
Emphasize that the panel members must act in role and should try to show themselves to their best advantage, while the Press should aim for a deeper understanding of the events and can use any sources they choose to make their point.
Open with the press statements. The floor is open to questions from the Press. If no-one kicks off, the organizer can start with something like: "Pharaoh, why did you wait so long to let the Jewish people go free?"
In teams, create sections of a wall newspaper depicting elements of the major events leading to the Exodus.
Create a collapsible [accordion-style] collage of relevant events. Note: A two-session activity.
- Copies of the Dayenu song in Hebrew and English for everyone
- Cardboard or poster board panels approx 27x34 cm for each group
- Image bank - use old photo magazines etc
- White paper
- Felt tip pens, crayons, pencils, rulers, glue
- Crafts materials
- Packing or heavy masking tape
- Contact paper to cover panels
The Dayenu song is a historical summary of events from the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt until their entry into the Promised Land - and after. Divide the participants into groups of 2 or 3 and allocate one line per group.
Each group has to research the history of the event mentioned in their line and collect materials.
In the second session, each team creates its collage of the event on a panel. When everyone has finished, all the panels are connected, the whole song is sung and the project's findings are reviewed. The mini-exhibition can be used to decorate the club or meeting room.
PERSONAL TESTIMONIESIn the context of Pesach and its educational messages about Jewish life, there are a number of simple projects which can be developed to convey not only the richness of the tradition, but also the relevance of its meaning. You will require three or four sessions to complete the project, plus technical facilities.
In your community, find a number of people who were born in different countries and have clear memories of their Pesach traditions. They will need to agree to be interviewed at home or even in the educational setting where you work and it would help if they have interesting artefacts or family albums which can be copied as photos or photocopies.
Decide whether you are interested in preparing one or more of the following:
In teams, prepare your participants for their interview, so that they know whom they will be meeting and what is special about that person's history. Have them prepare questions about the Seder, Pesach traditions, special objects, mementos, Jewish life in their country of origin, reasons for leaving...
- A slide-tape series
- A short video
- An album
- An exhibition
Each team interviews their subject and then sits down to discuss the features they wish to highlight.
Together with the counselor or leader, each team draws up a project outline and begins to work...
Presentations and Review.