Tag Archives: Jewish holidays

5 Things Kids Should Know About Passover

Passover is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the story of how the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Here are five things that kids should know about Passover.

  1. Passover is the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival.
  2. Seder, the traditional meal eaten to celebrate Passover, means “order.” Families eat very specific foods to remind them of the story of Passover. The bitter herbs are to remind them of the bitterness of slavery. The wine is a reminder of the rejoicing they felt when they were freed. The unleavened bread is a reminder that they had to leave Egypt so quickly that their bread didn’t have a chance to rise.
  3. Every seder table is set with a fifth cup of wine which is reserved for the Prophet Elijah. It is believed that Elijah will answer Jewish legal questions that the rabbis could not resolve. On the night of the Passover seder, the hope is that Elijah will return and answer the question of whether or not four or five cups of wine or grape juice should be drunk during the dinner.
  4. The last thing eaten at the seder is the afikomen, or dessert. The afikomen is hidden and the children at the meal must find and negotiate for its return. Until the afikomen is found the meal cannot be completed.
  5. During the first two days and the last two days of Passover participants do not go to school or work; instead, they say special prayers and eat meals together.

Happy Passover, and to all of you who celebrate it, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

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Read About Purim With Kids

The story of Purim is very meaningful for Jewish people for religious and cultural reasons, and it can have special significance for anyone whose faith uses the Old Testament. But it also is a great example of a story where a young woman is the hero who saves her people.

Not only is it important for girls and boys to hear stories where a woman is the hero, but it’s also important to provide children with examples of real people exhibiting courage and conviction. These are two character traits that most adults would like to see children develop and maintain throughout their lives, so why not start by encouraging them to find role models, such as Queen Esther? Here are some book recommendations to help you share the story of Purim with the children in your life.

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale by Eric A. Kimmel and Jill Weber

Cakes and Miracles : A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin and Jaime Zollars

The Purim Costume by Peninnah Schram

The Queen Who Saved Her People by Tilda Balsley and Ilene Richard

When It’s Purim (Very First Board Books) by Edie Stoltz Zolkower and Barb Bjornson

To learn more about Purim with KidCulture, read The Festival of Purim and discover how to make the famous Purim cookie hamantaschen when you read our post on Purim Cookie: Haman’s Ears.

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A New Day Begins At Sunset

I’ve always found it interesting that Jewish holidays begin at sundown the night before but I never really wondered why until recently.

According to the omniscient (and sometimes accurate) Internet, the reason dates from the creation of the Universe.  In the Torah, it was written that G-d created the heavens and the earth and evening came and morning followed, the first day.

I like this idea a lot, particularly since it means that I can cram a lot more life into my days if they begin just as my work day is ending.

Tonight, I finally pulled out the recipes I’ve been hoarding for traditional latkes.  Truth be told, it’s just a happy coincidence that my latkes attempt corresponds with the start of Passover, a holiday that retells how the Israelites broke free from slavery in Egypt.

Passover is a fascinating holiday but so many other have written so well on this topic and I have had so little first-hand experience with it that I hesitate to add anything except to say that it sounds like an amazing, tradition-fueled holiday that coincides with some interesting food.

I chose to focus on something simple:  latkes.  They were easy to squeeze in after a long day at work and I thought my son would like to help me cook.  I was right on one count, wrong on the other, but I still managed to single-handedly whip up some delicious latkes.

I had two recipes, a traditional white potato and onion latke and a sweet potato latke.

The steps were easy:  I peeled and grated about 4 medium white potatoes; I grated one-half of a yellow onion; I added some salt and pepper; one beaten egg; and two tablespoons of flour.  Once I mixed that well by hand, I heated about 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat and then carefully dropped the potato mixture into the oil.

The sweet potato latkes was even easier.  I grated one large sweet potato, added two beaten eggs (this was a larger amount of potato than my recipe called for); two tablespoons of flour; chopped green onion (about 3); and added salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of flour.  I thought the original latkes could have been improved by a little spice, so I added some paprika to this mixture but it really didn’t add much.

Of the two, my favorite was the white potato version.  I could easily see making them again and I think my son would enjoy them.  

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