The Haggadah is the guidebook for the Passover Seder, with all the discussion points, prayers and rituals recorded in order. Many of the elements of a traditional Haggadah are not specifically necessary to fulfill the laws of Passover. To create a Haggadah for children, include all the necessary elements for a Seder and replace the sections kids might find boring with songs, games and stories.
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The word "Seder" means "order." To celebrate the holiday properly according to Jewish law, participants must talk about the exodus from Egypt and perform a series of ritual observances in a particular sequence. When you assemble a Haggadah for children, make sure you include the required elements of a Seder. This list is included on the first page of a traditional Haggadah, so consult one before you begin. Most of these observances take under a minute to do, and children won't get bored if you include them in your Haggadah.
One of the longer sections of the Haggadah is the Maggid, or the retelling. Telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt is a major element of the Passover Seder. Replace the traditional Maggid with a kid-friendly version. You can simply write a short, clear version of the story, or you can be more creative. Try writing a short skit about Moses, Pharoah and the plagues and having the children act it out during the Seder. Script a puppet show for adults to perform for younger children, or make a board game for older children that recaps the story.
Traditional Haggadot include a number of songs both before and after dinner. Some are part of the Maggid, some accompany blessings and others are part of the Hallel, the series of psalms near the end of the Seder. In your children's Haggadah, include all the familiar sing-alongs, such as "Ma Nishtanah," "Dahyenu," "Chad Gadyah" and "Adir Hu," in Hebrew or English according to your family's custom. You also can work parody songs into the Maggid by putting Passover-themed lyrics to popular tunes. Write your own, invite your kids to write one or use other people's creations available online.
Considerations for Children
Decide whether to write the blessings, the songs and the story in Hebrew or English according to your children's expectations and tolerance. For example, if they are in religious school and know the blessings, they might enjoy reciting them in Hebrew, but they might prefer to sing the patter song "Chad Gadyah" in English. Print the Haggadah on standard printer paper and staple it into a booklet rather than having it professionally bound. Seders can be messy, and your children might spill grape juice, haroset and other food onto your new Haggadot. Plan to print fresh copies each year.
Stephanie Mitchell is a professional writer who has authored websites and articles for real estate agents, self-help coaches and casting directors. Mitchell also regularly edits websites, business correspondence, resumes and full-length manuscripts. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater.