Jewish Passover: Connecting Montessori Activities with Cultural CelebrationsThis year from April 9-16, Jewish people around the world will celebrate the Feast of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew). Passover is one of the most important religious holidays in the Jewish faith; it celebrates Moses leading the children of Israel from Egypt. Passover has been celebrated since 1300 BC. The story of Passover can be found in the Book of Exodus. The Israelites (The Children of Israel) had been slaves in Egypt for 210 years. God promised to release them, but the Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites. God sent 10 plagues to Egypt that affected the Egyptians but not the Israelites. The Nile turned to blood, frogs ran all over Egypt, and dust turned to lice. Swarms of flies poured over the land and all livestock died. There were boils, hail and locusts. Egypt was completely dark for three days. The final plague was the plague of the firstborn son. During this time, an angel would kill every firstborn son that was not an Israelite. Israelites would mark their doors with blood of a lamb and this way the angel would know to “passover” this house.
The Egyptians were so scared the Pharaoh told the Israelites to leave. They took unleavened bread on their journey (they did not have time to add yeast) and lived off of this bread for the first days of their journey.
A book called the Haggadah is read. It tells the story of the Jewish experience in Egypt. It also contains these four questions: Why do we eat unleavened bread? Why do we eat bitter herbs? Why do we dip our food in liquid? and Why do we eat in a reclining position? Usually, the youngest member of the celebration asks these questions of their father. Interestingly, the questions should be asked spontaneously, yet the celebration cannot begin until they have been asked.
- Since seder means order, having a seder meal is a perfect activity for a Montessori classroom. Montessori students of all ages will enjoy the food and order!
- Try something new and excite your students at the same time. Use PowerPoint or MovieMaker to make a “movie” to introduce your students to Jewish Passover.
- Ask your Jewish students if they would like to be your Passover experts and present a lesson to the other students. They could create 3-part nomenclature cards for Passover vocabulary, the ten plagues, or the sequence of Passover events.
- Through the course of the school year, have small groups select different holidays, festivals and celebrations to research. As these groups share their research with the class, discuss similarities and differences between cultures and religions.
- Challenge the students to find the answers to the four questions.
- Discuss slavery throughout history.
- The Passover Seder, by Emily Sper
- Sammy Spider's First Passover, by Sylvia A. Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn
- The Matzah Man: A Passover Story, by Naomi Howland
- My First Passover, by Tomie dePaola
- Only Nine Chairs: A Tall Tale for Passover, by Deborah Uchill Miller
- Miriam’s Cup: A Passover Story, by Fran Manushkin and Bob Dacey
- P is for Passover, by Tanya Lee Stone
- Creating Lively Passover Seders: A Sourcebook of Engaging Tales, Texts & Activities, by David Arnow
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.