- Symbolic acts on holidays convey meaning, ideas and values.
Seder night is the heart of the Passover holiday. It consists of ritual acts and symbolic foods that accompany the passages read from the Haggadah – including dipping the karpas (fresh vegetables) in saltwater, spilling drops of wine from the wine glass during the ten plagues, and more. We will learn about these ritual acts and the texts that accompany them and understand how it all connects to the exodus story and the Passover holiday. Moreover, we will discuss the basic underlying principle of Seder night – the unique customs and asking the questions these customs arouse.
- How are symbols used in celebrations and holidays?
- Why are holidays, rituals, customs, important to me, my family, and my community?
- How do family traditions play an important role in our lives?
- How do Jewish practices reflect Jewish values?
- Students will be familiar with the simanim (signs or mnemonics) of the Seder.
- Students will be familiar with the contents of the Seder plate.
- Students will know the text of the Ma Nishtana (four questions) and understand its significance.
- Students will be able to identify the order of the various parts of the Seder and their content.
- Students will be able to connect between the various symbols and their roles and significance in the Passover rituals.
What evidence will students provide to demonstrate that they:
Know the knowledge; Can do the skills; Can respond thoughtfully to the EQs and BIs
The teacher will determine a means for assessment before beginning to teach the curriculum module.
Possible Unit Plan
Possible Unit Opener:
You can begin by having the students listen to the melody for the simanim and then teach it to them, or with a game using flashcards that have the simanim written on them. Discuss: What does each siman say? Why is there a need for “seder” (order) on Seder night?
- Learn the resource about The Seder Simanim, and the use of mnemonic tools during the Seder and in other situations.
- Become familiar with The Seder Plate: What do each of its symbols signify? How does the Seder plate tell the exodus story? Connect the different foods to their place on Seder night in light of the simanim studied (for example, when do we eat charoset or matzah?)
- Learn the “Ma Nishtana – The Four Questions”, which refers to the various symbols and ritual acts presented in the simanim and on the Seder plate (as well as the custom of reclining). At this point, we will learn the reasons for these unusual acts, as well as the main way that we learn on Seder night – through asking questions.
- For older students: You can expand further using two additional resources about the Haggadah: Ha Lachma Anya – The Bread of Affliction/Poverty and The Ten Plagues. These resources focus on the symbols of eating matzah and spilling drops of wine, and the ideas that these symbolic actions convey.
We will see how the various symbols on Seder night help convey the ideas of the holiday by going over each of these symbols and asking the students to say what idea each symbol conveys. The students will think about ways for presenting these ideas on Seder night with their families or community. For example, they can make up a song about the symbols that assigns a specific meaning to each, or create notecards with emojis of slavery and freedom to put next to the respective symbolic foods on Seder night.