Does it Cross Line to Bring a Little Passover to Son’s Preschool?


April 11, 2012

My son snuggled into my lap as his pre-school classmates clustered around me. I had offered to read a book to his class. No big deal, right? But this wasn’t just any book. It was the day before Passover, and I had brought in a Jewish children’s book.

When I mentioned my upcoming visit to my mother, she asked if I were worried about crossing that line separating church from state. I was not that worried. My son’s preschool is private. Besides, is it promoting Judaism to read … Continue reading

Passover Joy Comes in Small Packages


April 2, 2012

As a few adults rush by him, my 4-year-old twirls around as he plays with a wind-up matzo ball toy. He giggles as he watches the matzo ball hop across the rug.

“It’s like in Big,” the sales clerk at Israel Book Shop says. “He just brings such joy into the store. He should come every day.”

I create an unambitious shopping list for this recent Passover shopping trip to Brookline, which has a few blocks of Jewish delis and stores. Simon has a day off from preschool. … Continue reading

Finding His Voice: Toddler Fills House with Jewish Song


May 23, 2011

It always sounds a little bit like Passover at our house. Nearly every day, our 3-year-old son sings Dayenu. He warbles it in the bathtub. He belts it out as he strums his ukulele and marches around the living room and kitchen. Sometimes he hums it before he goes to sleep.

You’re thinking that I should say, Dayenu (enough)? No way. Simon is equally enthusiastic about singing David Melech. Jewish music has become a part of the fabric of our family. Simon likely does not understand the meaning … Continue reading

Spiders, Frogs, Oh, My: Author Sylvia Rouss Tries to Engage, Comfort Children


April 11, 2011

Children’s books by Sylvia Rouss lately have fascinated my toddler and me. As Passover approaches, we are reading Sammy Spider’s First Passover. And Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah will take center stage at our first night seder. The Littlest Frog, which pokes fun at the Pharaoh as frogs jump on him, has become a new favorite.

So how did Rouss, a Jewish preschool teacher from Los Angeles, get her start as a Jewish children’s author? … Continue reading

Passover Part 2: Seder Becomes Playtime


Simon squirmed in his high chair as the Seder began. Then, he grabbed forks and spoons and clanged them together. Chagrined, I looked over at him. The woman next to me whispered not to worry. “You shall tell your children,” she reminded me. The Hagaddah, after all, urges us to tell the story of Jews’ freedom from slavery to our children.

But I sat there wondering what constitutes “telling” our children if they refuse to listen.

Kid-friendly Seders deserve kudos, not bashing


Our first-night Seder was a tiny affair –for our family of three. My expectations for the night were simple: Give our 2-year-old a toddler-sized taste of Passover.

In an entry on her blog, Cantor’s Canvas, Cantor Sally Neff of Temple Beth Torah in Upper Nyack, N.J., takes families to task for devising “pediatric Seders with puppets and songs in English.” She contends: “We are changing the Seder culture for our children in order to make it more fun, and it isn’t working at all.” I beg to differ.

Finding Community at the Grocery Store: Happy Passover


Sometimes, you find the Jewish community where you least expect it. Today, my 2-year-old in tow, I went to our favorite kid-friendly grocery store, Wilson Farms, where Simon knows he can see Belle the Llama and pens of clucking chickens. On rare occasion, we see people we know.

Today, Wilson Farms was the place to be a Jew. I ran into a congregant from my temple and exchanged Passover greetings with her and her daughter. A while later, I accepted a hug from a friend and a greeting from her husband … Continue reading