Art plus tradition equal bonding time.
The eight-day Jewish holiday Passover falls each spring, commemorating the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. Families typically gather and it is a special time in Jewish homes–and also a great opportunity to create holiday bonding art together.
Jewish tradition tells us that the most important part of this holiday is the children themselves. Children are encouraged to ask questions about the story of Passover at the seder and many even get the special role of reciting a part of the historic story and the traditions of this holiday are important, the most important part of all is the children’s participation and enjoyment of it.
Our children will carry these traditions on, so it is very important to engage young children in the process of preparing for, learning about and celebrating Passover. So, what better way to do this than through fun, hands-on Passover art activities!?
Try adding these activities to your own celebration of the holiday to learn about the holiday itself that will have your children exploring, engage in sensory play, storytelling, literacy, art and even some practical life skills.
Passover is a holiday rich in ritual objects. These items can be found in many Jewish homes, some even handmade, collected from special places and passed on from generation to generation.
One of the most special ways to connect young children with these special materials is to engage them in making their own. The best part is that they can be shared at a family seder, used in play or displayed for family and guests to see. There are endless creative possibilities, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Make your own Seder plate
Every seder table has a seder plate. Here are a couple of ideas you might try which are easy and fun and can be replicated each year or be lovely special keepsakes to use each year.
At my studio each Passover, I love to sculpt and paint decorative artsy and colorful Seder plates with kids and families out of clay and add embellishments such as gems and mosaic pieces.
This can be a cherished keepsake, a conversation piece for the seder to share with family, or as a holiday gift. There is of course, a simpler version that can be done at home with basic materials: a white paper plate, markers/crayons/colored pencils, glue stick, printed pictures (which can be obtained online) of seder plate foods for the younger children to look at and/or glue on for the five or six items on their seder plates, each of which has symbolic meaning to the story.
Children can make these seder plates as beautiful and ornate as they’d like and can draw their own decorative designs or even add some stickers or small craft items to glue on. There are also many free printable Seder plate coloring sheets which can be found for free online which can also be used as reference or for pictures of the seder plate foods to color.
Make a Kiddush cup (wine goblet)
Four cups of grape juice or wine are consumed during the course of the seder and each guest needs his/her own kiddush cup. At most supply or party stores it is easy to obtain lovely wine goblets or shot glasses. You can either take it as far as painting the glass option with permanent enamel paints (for the adults or older kids) or the younger children can decorate the plastic kind with small craft materials such as tissue paper, stickers or permanent markers.
Make your own matzo cover/afikoman bag
This is one of my favorite activities which can be handed down over generations. A part of the Seder is covering the table and matzo in beautiful ornate wraps. This is an opportunity to make your own decorative fabric garment to cover the matzo using a white cloth napkin or a square of white fabric/felt. You can write the word “Matzo” on it in English or even Hebrew if you wish. Children can decorate their matzo covers using fabric markers or fabric paints, gluing on small craft items or even tie-dyeing them! The same can be done if you choose to make an afikoman bag for half of the piece of matzo which is hidden during the seder and saved for Jared. This can be done with the same fabrics by finding them in half and sewing (with help from an adult) or gluing the sides, leaving the top open like an envelope. Children can decorate their afikoman bags with the same decorative items. The afikoman bag can also be made from construction paper if you do not have fabric on hand.
I hope you enjoy and try these many special, creative, fun, bonding and joyful ways to celebrate the Passover seder as a family and gathering with loved ones. Making memories and passing down and retelling stories related to the Jewish holiday become family traditions, as does looking toward the bright future together.
DIANA SHABTAI “MISSDEE, PSY.D., ATR-BC IS A BOARD CERTIFIED ART THERAPIST WHO OBTAINED A MASTERS DEGREE IN CLINICAL ART THERAPY, MA IN MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPY & A DOCTORATE DEGREE IN MFT. SHE IS PASSIONATE ADVOCATE FOR BRINGING AWARENESS TO THE THERAPEUTIC BENEFITS OF ART. EXPERIENCE STUDYING, WORKING, & EDUCATING IN THE FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGY & THE THERAPEUTIC ARTS FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS. SHE IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.