Pesach Freedom Talk

 

Subject: The Story of Pesach and Discussion of Freedom

Target: 4th grade students and their parents

Time Frame: Ongoing throughout the School YEar

Congregation: United Hebrew

Contributor: Cheryl Whatley

Overview

The story of Pesach serves as the focal point for a discussion of the many aspects of freedom.

Goals

The overriding goal of the Freedom Talk is to involve students and parents in activities that lead to a greater depth of understanding about Pesach.  It is to help them derive a sense of the magnitude and responsibility of freedom in both secular and religious arenas. 

Objectives

  1. Children and parents come together for text study and history.
  2. Children and parents come together to learn about holiday-related mitzvot and celebrations.
  3. Children and parents build a sense of pride in Jewish freedom as expressed through our bible and history and assert their rights to religious freedom in America  For example, the Reform movement’s freedom of expression and right to exist in Israel.
  4. Children and parents discuss the responsibilities and burdens of those who are free, how we celebrate freedom and how we protect it.

Target Population

4th grade students and their parents

Location

Any classroom

Staff and Specialists

A leader for each group

Supplies

  • Passover Seder Cards by Joy of Storytelling  (www.joyofstorytelling.com)
  • This is a set of cards, each of which tells the story of an important figure in the Pesach story.  The set includes guides for the teacher.
  • Copies of the song “Dayenu” (1 or 2 per family)
  • Pieces of pink paper (1 per family)
  • Red markers or pens (1 per family)
  • A big enough piece of paper to hang over the classroom doorway.  This will be for a sign that says “Dayenu Doorway”
  • A large piece of red paper to represent the Red Sea
  • A long strip of brown paper –the same length as the red paper

Preparation

  1. Order Passover Seder Cards
  2. Make copies of “Dayenu”
  3. Buy supplies (markers, paper to write on, large pieces of red and brown paper)
  4. Let parents know about the program

Program Activities

Welcome

Explain that today we are preparing for Pesach/Passover by talking about freedom: what it means to be free, what might be the things we cherish in our lives and in our leaders and role   models.

Passover Seder Storycards

Tell participants they will be learning about the character traits of the important people in the  Passover story.  They may even learn about characters they did not know about before.  Explain that they will be looking for  strengths in them that allowed them to act as they did.  Discuss how important it is to build one’s  character to be strong so that one can stand up for one’s ideas and beliefs and can take action when necessary.

  • Before passing out cards, break into groups by families—if there are more families than cards, it is fine for 2 families to share a card.
  • Explain that each card has the name of a character from the Passover story and information about who that person is and what he or she does in the story.  This information should be read together.
  • Tell participants to think about how the character traits of this person affect their actions.  Adults should tell an answer to the section on the card call “Tell About.”  Kids should think of an answer to the part on the card called “Ask the Kids.”   The group must  be prepared to introduce their character and to share their answers with the class.
  • Give out cards.  Allow time for discussion in the small groups.
  • Allow each group to come forward or to stand at their places and briefly introduce their character.  Each person in the group will read the question he or she was asked and will share a personal answer to the question.

Dayenu Doorway (hang large sign over classroom door that says “Dyenu Doorway”)

  • Give out handouts of the Passover song “Dayenu.”  Ask who has heard this song and who would like to lead the chorus.  Sing a few verses.
  • The following is an example of a discussion that can take place. 

    Who knows what the word dayenu means?  (It means “enough for us” and means that each thing that God did for the Israelites would have been enough, but God did more than one thing.)    Go over the verses on the handout to see a few of the things mentioned.  What are some things God did for our ancestors?  Are any of them things we still value?
  • Ask why in the telling of the Passover story  we say “we” instead of “they” and “us” instead of “them”?  (We do this when we retell the story to remember and to help us feel that we are part of this story—that it is our story too.  We are supposed to tell it as if it happened to each of us.)  Why? (Our ancestors’ freedom is ours; we too could be not free, so we want to think about freedom and work for it.  When we sing Dayenu we remember the wonderful things of long ago, but God is still here for us today.
  • Give out pieces of pink paper red markers or pens.  Point to the sign over the door:  “Dayenu Doorway”.    Remind participants about the marking of the doorposts in the Passover story, so the Angel of Death would “Pass Over” the houses of the Israelites during the terrible 10th plague.  Each family discusses and then writes on the paper, something that God had done for them or does for them that is so important that it alone “would have been dayenu/enough.”  Then tape it to the Dayenu Doorway.

Parting the Red Sea of Obstacles to Freedom

  • The teacher tapes a big piece of red paper on the board and  invites people to come up and write in marker their ideas about obstacles and hardships to freedom. (Prompts if they have trouble:  decision making, remembering to vote, letting other people do things you don’t approve of because it is their right, etc.)
  • On a big strip of brown paper they can write their ideas about good things about freedom.
  • Cut the red paper in half and tape the brown in between. (This represents the Red/Reed Sea divided by the Freedom Path.)  Lay it on the floor and let everyone walk through the obstacles across the Freedom Path.

Budget

Evaluation

The overriding goal of the Freedom Talk is to involve students and parents in activities that lead to a greater depth of understanding about Pesach.  It is to help them derive a sense of the magnitude and responsibility of freedom in both secular and religious arenas. 

References and Resources

Passover Seder Story Cards

www.joyofstorytelling.com