How to Have a Kid-Friendly, Meaningful Virtual Seder - Rabbi Tamara Cohen ('14) | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

How to Have a Kid-Friendly, Meaningful Virtual Seder - Rabbi Tamara Cohen ('14)

News

By Kara Baskin; Photo: iStock/filadendron

Originally published in Jewish Boston on March 30, 2020.

The holiday is about resilience. Now’s the time to show it.

Virtual Passover

If you’re trying to figure out how to balance Passover with teaching grandma how to use Zoom, you’re not alone.

Rabbi Tamara Cohen with Moving Traditions offers ideas for hosting a multi-generational, virtual seder that appeals to young and old.

Remember that if a pandemic had to happen, now’s the time.

If members of your crew seem a bit disappointed that this year will be different than all the others, remind them that this whole scenario is actually kinda fitting: Mitzrayim means “narrow place.” “We’re experiencing narrowing very literally right now,” Cohen says. “What we can take from that is not just a message about our own longing for liberation, but our responsibility to help others who are in places of constriction. In many ways, it’s the right holiday to have this happen.” Look on the bright side!

Front-load the fun.

Just like with a real, live seder, make sure little kids have their fun first. “Make space for good stories. That’s what ‘Hagaddah’ means. It’s about telling a story. For example, it’s about telling a version of the Exodus story, but you can also tell a family story, and make it fun and funny.” Sing. Enact the plagues with props. Keep it a bit lighter than usual. Then, let the littlest kids get up from the table. Cohen likes running a movie for them, like “The Prince of Egypt,” and starting the afikoman hunt early.

Incorporate current events for older kids.

“A remarkable fact is that Jews have done seders through many difficult times. Sure, this is unprecedented, but it’s also unprecedented that we can connect with our families, as opposed to being isolated,” Cohen says. There are plenty of stories of previous generations celebrating Passover in horrible circumstances, even in concentration camps, she adds. “Tell those stories, because it describes our resilience,” she says.

Share your own personal stories of resilience. 

This year, Moving Traditions is asking families to share their own stories of overcoming adversity. (No, being unable to figure out Google Hangouts doesn’t quite count.) For ideas, think about your own history: Who led your Passover seder in childhood? What dreams did you (or your parents or grandparents) have as kids? In what ways were your dreams and aspirations impacted by gender, racial or Jewish identity? Write down your story, and hide it with the afikoman.

Go easy on yourself.

“This is not the year to go crazy,” Cohen says. “There’s a concept in the Bible of a second Passover, which is a month after Passover, instituted for people who were too sick to bring their sacrifice. But we need ritual right now. We need gathering,” she says. To that end, don’t throw away leavened products in this time of scarcity, she urges.

Keep perspective. 

“The story of Exodus is a difficult one, but the Israelites came out on top,” Cohen says. While not quite the same thing, we’re also living through a time of upheaval and challenge. Try to find elements of positivity. “We’re living through a time where there’s been a resetting of our values, our world and our American values. This is forcing us to think about interconnectedness,” she says. “And now, we’re in an era with doctors who are working hard to cure people. Move to that place. That’s the place of pesach: a place of hope.”

More News

College News

Rabbi Shira Stutman ('07): Hanukkah celebrates a Jewish victory, but this year the rebuilding matters more

By Rabbi Shira Stutman, a 2007 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Originally published in The Washington Post on Dec. 11, 2020

News
College News

How Faith Groups Are Bringing Sermons to Screens This Holiday Season - Rabbi Rachel Weiss ('09)

Rachel Weiss, a senior rabbi at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, said her congregation has created meaningful ways to celebrate the holiday online. Together, they’ll be cooking latkes together, watching movies and lighting candles virtually. “Because we do it on Zoom, we have windows into everyone’s homes and it’s incredibly moving to be able to see candles lit all over,” Weiss said. “It’s like windows into 100 different sanctuaries.”

News
College News

Rabbi Moti Rieber ('04) quickly takes reins as interim in Topeka

As most congregations can attest, it was hard enough preparing a virtual experience during the High Holidays this year. But try doing it with a temporary spiritual leader who has been on the job for only a matter of weeks. That was exactly the situation at Temple Beth Sholom in Topeka. Congregation president, Alan Parker, said the experience turned out fantastically thanks in large part to interim rabbi, Moti Rieber, who lives and worships in Overland Park. 

News
College News

New Rabbi at Attleboro Synagogue - Rabbi Alex Weissman ('17)

“Synagogues are one of the few places that have the potential to meaningfully, rigorously, and generously, build relationships across age, ideology, religiosity — and so many other things that keep people apart,” Weissman said. “We live in a world of isolation, hyper-individualism, and division. Synagogues have the potential to be an antidote, to show up for each other, to learn from each other, to rejoice together, and to grieve together.”

News
College News

Data Breach Notification

Recently, we were notified by one of our software vendors, Blackbaud, that they experienced a ransomware attack from February 2020 to May 2020.

News
College News

Trauma, Healing & Resilience for Rabbis, Jewish Educators and Organizers - Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg ('18)

“This guide offers, I hope, valuable context, distillation of terms, tools, and most importantly, questions that rabbis and educators can ask to engage the ongoing process of integrating trauma awareness into our Jewish communities.” - Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg

News
College News

Rabbi takes a non-traditional path to Temple Sinai Cinnaminson - Rabbi Michael Perice ('20)

He started out small, reading books and going to services more often. But no matter how much his newly excavated faith grew, he said, becoming a rabbi was still the farthest reality in his mind.

News
College News

Boycotting Twitter to protest its handling of anti-Semitism could backfire - Rabbi Emily Cohen ('18)

In that sense, the digital walkout’s mission is one I fully support. But, of course, effective action is a little more complicated than that.

News
College News

Lessons From Transitioning in the Pandemic - Rabbi James Greene ('08)

Then, in early March the world changed forever, and my role at Camp Laurelwood went from incoming ED to Crisis Manager.

News
College News

What it’s like to start a job as a rabbi mid-pandemic - Rabbi Michael Perice ('20)

When Perice started the job last week, he was still living in Philadelphia. He has met his congregants only once — right before he started the job when he made the 40-minute drive to the congregation for a socially distanced Shabbat service held in the synagogue’s parking lot.

News
College News

In Seattle’s protest zone, rabbis at chaplaincy table create new rituals to heal - Rabbi David Basior ('15)

“I experienced curiosity about our presence,” Basior, the rabbi at Reconstructionist congregation Kadima, told The Times of Israel about that first night. “Someone came wanting a blessing. I asked a little about themselves and gave them a blessing. It was pretty ecumenical. They didn’t identify as Jewish and I didn’t ask.”

News
College News

Learning on the Job: RRC Students Provide Spiritual Counseling and Jewish Experience Online

As the coronavirus pandemic forced nearly all communal life online, RRC students drew on every aspect of their training and RRC’s support to serve in a radically changed environment.

News
College News

Yardley native finds faith, path to become rabbi - Rabbi Nora Woods ('20)

Rabbi Nora Woods received her rabbinic ordination at a private and socially distanced ceremony at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pa., June 2020.

News
College News

Rabbi Solocheck ordained - Rabbi Lily Solochek ('20)

Rabbi Lily Solochek, spiritual leader of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland, on June 7 graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

News
College News

Mazel tov to our New Rabbis

With great pride and joy, we introduce the rabbis of the graduating class of 2020/5780.

News