LDS Passover Seder Meal in Seminary – our experience

The Thursday and Friday before Thanksgiving we covered the Passover in our Old Testament reading. I elected to put on an abbreviated Passover meal during Seminary to cement in my students’ minds the symbols in the passover meal and meaning behind them, since we’ll be referring back to them often during the next several weeks of class.

I’ve been to Passover services before run by other churches, and I’ve helped do some very abbreviated Passover-style meals for other activities at Church, too, so I didn’t go into this blind. It’s kind of a big production — not huge — but more than you would usually do for Seminary, so weigh the temperment of your class and the amount of time you have available to spend on this before you implement it. You’ll probably have to set up for an hour and a half before class and do some food preparation the evening before to be ready in time. Enlist some helpers, and you might be able to do set up in 45 minutes.

Preparation

After reading the following passover seders online:

A – The Passover Haggadah, A guide to the Seder by the Jewish Federations of North America, http://www.jewishfederations.org/local_includes/downloads/39497.pdf

B – Pasover Haggadah, by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, http://scheinerman.net/judaism/pesach/haggadah.pdf

C – The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach, Assembled by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2011/03/velveteen-rabbis-haggadah-f…

I compiled them together to create my own version. I used the text from each that I felt pointed more directly to Jesus Christ as the Savior. I believe the Passover was created to help the Israelites recognize Jesus Christ when he came. Unfortunately, perfect observance of the law became the focus instead of the meaning of the symbols.

I also emailed parents to ask for cleaned chicken drumsticks to use during our activity. I didn’t want to buy lamb, and since chicken bones are an acceptable substitute, that’s what we used.

I went to the grocery store and purchased:

  • 100% red grape juice
  • 2 boxes of matzah crackers (one was the big sheet size matzah, the other was the smaller bite-sized crackers)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 small bottle of horseradish
  • eggs
  • 6 apples (to make the charoset)
  • paper plates
  • cups
  • napkins
  • plastic knives

I made the charoset and hardboiled the eggs ahead of time. Here’s the easy charoset recipe I used. I didn’t include the walnuts in case of allergies, and it was still really yummy.

I set up tables and chairs for everyone upstairs on my hardwood floor, so that the red grape juice wouldn’t get in the carpet downstairs.

I put the small matzah crackers in a bowl to pass around as instructed.

Three large matzah were placed on a plate where everyone could see.

Set out one empty cup for Elijah.

We also set 2 candles on a table.

You should also place a small bowl on each table for salt water. I mixed the salt water to taste. I probably used about 1.5 tsp salt for to a cup of water. Add the salt slowly and taste so it doesn’t get to salty. It should taste salty, but not make you want to hurl.

You can also place a bowl and a pitcher of water at each table for hand washing. I didn’t do this, however, and we washed our hands with imaginary water. :)

Every other seat had a copy of the haggadah (attached at the bottom of this post) so we could all read the unison parts together.

Each place setting had a cup, napkin, plastic knife, and a plate that had the following items on it:

  • a little parsley
  • a smudge of horseradish
  • 1 hardboiled or roasted egg. (roasting is MESSY — just hardboil them!)
  • a spoonful of charoset
  • one cleaned chicken drumstick

The Haggadah

I read the Haggadah and invited some family members of the students and others to participate at certain points. It was great to get everyone involved. It took about 40 minutes to do the service. The only part I skipped was the dayenus, to make sure the kids weren’t late for school.

I’ll post the Passover haggadah I compiled as an attachment to this post. Please don’t go ripping on me if something’s wrong — I am not Jewish, not a scholar, and not a scriptorian. This is my best approximation of a passover service, and I’m just sharing it for your information and enjoyment. The commentary is my opinion only and should be taken as such — just the ideas of a backwoods girl from Mississippi. You are welcome to use or change it as you desire for your own service.

After the telling I emphasized to the kids about the 3 main symbols in the service that are included in the Bible (the other two — charoset and egg — were added later) and how they so clearly point to Jesus Christ. We talked about the time of day the service is to be performed (late afternon/ evening), and how that was the time of day Jesus died on the cross. We talked about how many spiritually significant things have taken place at Passover time of year, including the Exodus, the establishment of the Church in 1830, Moses and Elijah visiting the temple in 1836, and Jesus’ own birth and death. I placed a special emphasis on the fact that the Passover is full of symbols pointing to Christ who hadn’t come yet, while our own Sacrament today reminds us of the Savior, who has already come.

Was it Worth it?

I am a big fan of trying to utilize all the senses in trying to teach my students, and I do believe the Passover haggadah does that. When we got finished with our haggadah, some of the kids looked a little overwhelmed. I was afraid maybe it had been too much — more grown up than they could really handle.

However, this week, I’ve had several other people who heard about it tell me how cool they heard it was, because the kids were talking about it. I think that the symbolism just takes a little time to digest. It’s probably a good thing we did this activity on a Friday right before a holiday.

So was the extra effort worth it? It’s a toss up for me. I’d say yes, it was fun and educational and I think the kids learned a great deal from it, but I wouldn’t put this on my MUST DO list for Seminary. It was a very good activity, but I don’t want to give the impression that you should feel you have to do this yourself. It’s just an optional enrichment activity, in my mind. A very good enrichment activity, but it’s just bonus material — do it if you have time and inclination.

It would make a really fun end-of-year throwdown.

Read More about LDS Passovers Online

So you know, LDS people have been enjoying the Passover service as a reminder of the Savior for years at BYU and other locations. Read more here:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/15/a-mormon-passover-seder/

http://martyrobertsblog.com/WordPress/2010/04/01/us-mormons-making-a-pas…

More LDS Perspectives on the Passover

http://lds.org/ensign/1990/04/passover-promises-fulfilled-in-the-last-su…

http://mormonmatters.org/2009/04/11/symbolism-of-the-passover-points-to-…