Ten Ways to Make Your Family Seder Accessible for All Learners

Written by Meredith Polsky of Matan, this post originally appeared on the New York Jewish Week’s The New Normal, April 2, 2014.

Passover is an ideal holiday to explore multi-sensory ideas for reaching every type of learner at your seder through activities that engage particpiants not only through visual and auditory information, but also through touch, taste, and smell. Whether your goal is to keep everyone’s attention, or help individuals understand the story, or encourage participation from every guest, below are ten of our favorite ways to keep the seder interesting, active and fun!

1. Use a Seder Tracker to maximize children’s attention. In the Matan Seder Tracker, children add each step of the seder as it is completed.

2. Kadesh: Give your child very small cups so that they can drink a full cup at each of the 4 times during the seder.  If they don’t like grape juice, that’s okay.  You can fill it with water so they can participate in drinking from their cups 4 times.

3. Urchatz: Have your guests share a way they prepared for Passover and include the kids.  They can share something they did at Hebrew School, or if they searched for crumbs in their house they can share the funniest place they found something. This is a good activity when people are busy washing their hands.

4. Karpas: Have your child make the salt water.  They can do this during the beginning of the seder or before it starts.  During the seder, they can keep adding more salt as an experiment – how much salt do they need to make something float?

5. Maggid: Telling the story of Passover is typically the longest part of the seder.  Consider setting up stations in your home.  You can have a pyramid station where there are legos, Lincoln logs, and anything else they can make pyramids out of.  You can have a dress-up station with towels and bathrobes so they can pretend to be Pharoah or the slaves.  You can make pyramids at your table too.  Give your child sugar cubes or marshmallows and toothpicks and see how high they can make their pyramid.

6. Download Matan’s visual Ten Plagues so that everyone at the seder knows just how much G-d was helping the Jewish People to get out of Egypt!

7. Maror: Talk about things that are bitter in the world.  Ask the kids (and adults!) what is something “bitter” they would like to fix in the world.

8. Barech: Blessings after the meal – a great time to have your kids tell you something they are thankful for.

9. The song “Who Knows One” is very popular at lots of Passover Seders, but for some kids it can be difficult to keep up and remember which number goes with what. Print Matan’s visual version “Who Knows One” so everyone at your seder can have fun participating!

10. Play Passover Seder Bingo! A favorite of children and adults alike, give a bingo board and stickers to every person at your seder. When they hear each part of the seder, they find it on their board and put a sticker on it. When the whole card is filled up, the seder is over!

CHAG PESACH SAMEACH – HAPPY PASSOVER – HAVE FUN!

What Constitutes Success?

Written by Jason Lieberman, board member of Matan.

With JDAM 2014 in the books, I thought I’d reflect on what I, a member of the Jewish community with a disability, and witness to the evolution of the month, views as JDAM success.

Professor Paul C Light, from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, suggests the true goal of non-profits is to make its mission obsolete. I always believed long-term, JDAM should strive for a similar goal. However, on a shorter-term basis my view of JDAM success has changed over time.

The first step to building a truly integrated or inclusive Jewish community is breaking down the barrier separating people with disabilities and their families from the “mainstream world,” which as a whole ignored us or saw our families and us as nothing more than a burden. Therefore, in the beginning, acknowledgement in a synagogue’s bulletin announcements, from the pulpit, or in the local Jewish paper was a success.

Acknowledgement, though only breaks the ice.  So nine years after the launch of the first national infinitive[1], I no longer believe acknowledgment constitutes success. To succeed now, JDAM must be a catalyst to a time when the inclusion of people with disabilities doesn’t need a specially dedicated month, but is simply normal operating procedure. A successful JDAM, therefore, requires programs with transformative potential. It must ignite, some action advancing opportunities within the community for people with disabilities.  That is, effectiveness requires JDAM’s benefits extend beyond March 1st. Thus locally, we shouldn’t measure JDAM’s success by the number of programs or attendance at those programs, but on whether the community is further on its journey toward inclusiveness and integration on March 1st than it was on February 1st, and further in 2015 than 2014.

Was your JDAM been successful?



[1] Yachad and the OU launched North American Inclusion Month (NAIM) in October of 2005 and continue to use that name. The broader community rebranded it JDAM and moved it to February in 2009.

Register for the Next Matan Institute!

Matan-Institute-Logo-LargeFOR EDUCATION DIRECTORS

June 10-11, 2014 AND March 11-12, 2015
8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
White Plains, NY
(easily accessible from all NYC airports)

INTERACTIVE SESSIONS ON:

  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Positive Behavioral Supports
  • Resources
  • Organizational Change Theory
  • First-Person Experiences
  • Concrete “Ready-To-Implement” Ideas
  • And so much more!

$720 per Education Director

Space is Limited! Click here for more information and to register!