Passover: Story of the Holiday

This unit deals with the multifaceted story and diverse faces of the Passover holiday, and focuses on the idea of telling the exodus story and its significance.

Unit Ages: 9-11, 12-14 | 2-3 lessons


At the basis of the Passover holiday is a formative story for the Jewish people – the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egyptian slavery to freedom. The story is central on Seder night; it is the crux of the Haggadah and also the most important mitzvah of the evening – to tell the exodus story. The exodus story is reflected in three different names given to the holiday: The Holiday of Freedom, Passover, and the Feast of Matzah. Another name for the holiday – Springtime Festival – relates to the time of year when the exodus story took place. This unit discusses the holiday story and its various names, as well as the different ways the story is retold on Seder night.

Desired Outcomes

Big Ideas

The exodus story is a formative story for the Jewish nation and there are different ways in which the story can be passed on so that everyone can connect to it, including: asking questions, singing songs, different symbolic foods, acting out plays during the Seder, traditional rituals, etc.

Essential Questions
  • What can we learn from different generations?
  • How is the Torah story my story?
  • How are symbols used in celebrations and holidays?
  •  Students will be familiar with the exodus story. 
  • Students will be familiar with the different names for the holiday and their meanings. 
  • Students will understand the importance of retelling the story as a formative story. 
  • Students will be familiar with the various tools used to impart the exodus story on Seder night.
  • Students will be able to connect the different parts of the exodus story with their various expressions on Seder night, in the Haggadah and throughout the Passover holiday.  
  • Students will be able to find a connection between the ancient story and values and ideas that are still meaningful for them today.

Assessment Evidence

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.

Learning Experiences

Possible Unit Plan

Possible Unit Opener:

Tell the exodus story (or go over it again, if you’ve learned it already). You can do this using pictures that portray different aspects of the story or by asking the students to act out different parts of the story.

Content Study:

  • Younger students: Learn about the names for The Holiday of Passover in the context of the holiday story – see how the names emphasize different aspects of the same story, resulting in a rich system of symbols and ideas expressed also in the various symbols and rituals of the holiday.
  • Learn the importance of Telling the Story over and over again in different ways: How does the storyteller benefit from retelling the story over and over again? What is the value for those listening?  What are some different ways that we can tell the story? You can connect this to family stories that the students hear again and again, each time revealing something new to them about their past and heritage.
  • Teach about how the story is also told through the customs of the holiday  – for example, in the symbolic foods found on the Seder plate (see the Seder Plate template).

Unit Closing/Assessment:

Ask the students to talk about different values and ideas they learned in this unit (for example, national memory, different ways to tell the story, the value of freedom) that arise from the holiday story and its names. The students will think about interesting ways to tell the Passover story on Seder night with their family or community that express the main ideas and values of the story and the holiday. For this purpose, go over different ways the story is told (symbolic foods and ritual acts, plays, explanations, activities, songs, etc.) and write them down. Each student will choose one way that they find especially interesting and will write down on a sheet of paper how they plan to use it on the holiday.