Saturday, March 13, 2010

In Byelorussia a Different Child Asked Each of the 4 Questions

One of the standard Passover customs is having the youngest child in the family ask the Mah Nishtana -- The 4 Questions. Sometimes the child is embarrassed and the adults chime in. A custom practiced by many families in Byelorussia decades gone by, solved this problem. All the children in the family knew the Mah Nishtana by heart and each one would ask a different question, starting from the eldest down. If there were more than four children in the family, they would pair up. This custom got me thinking about how we could continue the Passover Play that we began with the Turkish custom and continued with the Moroccan custom mentioned in my last blog. The answer is obvious: Divide the Mah Nishtana into four parts and have each child playfully illustrate what the question is about. Let the script continue with The 4 Sons and make sure it is not gender based. After all, children are children and both boys and girls enjoy dressing up. Think about what the wise child could wear, the bad one, the one who is simple with very few interests, and finally, the one who is so small s/he doesn’t know how to ask questions. Once you’ve determined the costumes and who should play which role, ask your chosen actors if they would like to read the matching passages as well.

We’re half-way through Act I of the Seder night and there’s still more fun in sight: acting out The 10 Plagues, singing Dayenu Persian style (see my book Passover Around the World), eating a fabulous feast followed by singing favorite Passover ballads.
Enjoy your model Seder at school, your seder at home, and savor the sweet taste of freedom.
Happy Passover, Pessach Sameach…Tami

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