Thursday, April 24, 2008


Woodrow (hi Woodrow! thanks for visiting) commented on my toddler seder post that he doesn't think the point of a seder is to entertain children. I couldn't agree more.

The point of the seder is not to ENTERTAIN children, and I wasn't suggesting that. It is to engage, intrigue, and interest them. Which, frankly, reading aloud from a haggadah in a language they don't understand, long past their bedtime, simply cannot accomplish.

My favorite seders, by the way, are still the ones we had with other friends our own age and their parents and parents' friends, post-college, full of intellectual and historical discussion, that went on late into the night.

But, when you're a parent, you learn that it's not all about you and your interests anymore. Many is the mama who has slogged through "Guess How Much I Love You" or "Bible Heroes I Can Be" (Baby Chalal's personal favorite) for the tenth time, when she'd much rather be reading the new gardening book she just got from the library...

I had to laugh when I reached Woodrow's line that "the Seder, and indeed Judaism generally, is primarily for grownups and older children who can appreciate Pesach. The 5 year olds can learn about it when they are older."

Woodrow - have you heard of Piaget? Do you know that the most formative emotional aspects of religion happen under the age of six? Yes, you can wait to teach them about Pesach when they're older. But you're going to end up with a lot of wicked sons.

But here's my favorite part:
"By contrast, when people start a seder at 9 PM, they tend to heed the time and to not add a lot of extraneous rubbish, thus ensuring that the seder is over within a few years."

LOL. Sounds like your seder was a little too long. :)


Anonymous Woodrow said...

LOL (or at least chuckling!) I think I meant to say "a few hours".

I have to admit I don't know anything about Piaget.

But on this matter, Piaget isn't very persuasive to me.

Here's why: I would speculate that children who are asleep for late Seders grow up, as a group, to be much MORE religious than those who (like me and mine) were awake for early ones.

I wouldn't claim that there's a causal link- rather, it seems to me that the children in the first group overwhelmingly grow up in more religious households that inculculated reverence for halacha, while the children in the second group do not. And people (my family notwithstanding) tend to follow the religious directions of their parents, regardless of Piaget. (Of course, if all else was held equal, who knows?)

4/24/2008 7:43 PM  
Blogger miriamp said...

I tried and tried to get my kids to nap! They declined, and the 5 year old basically slept though both seders. He woke up ( I guess to use the bathroom?) around dinner (ie after midnight) and joined us then. The 10 yr old and 9 yr old made it most of the way through. The others (8, 7, 3, 2, and almost 1, yes, I really have all those kids) were awake or asleep for various parts of the seders.

But I think they learn more from the fact that we "insist" on starting after sunset then they would from a "toddler seder." In fact the toddler part sounds like great fun for during the day or even chol hamoed, just not for seder night.

If I had a kid with a set bedtime like that, I'd put him to bed and go on without him. My kids just kind of crash when they're ready, and fight bedtime with a passion when they're not.

But really, we've oriented the seders more towards grown-ups until the time when the kids actually started paying attention on their own -- then we started doing more in English and making sure to get them involved and engaged in the actual rituals. Not as toddlers, but probably yes, from about age 5 and up.

Just another perspective.

4/29/2008 8:52 PM  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

Thanks, Miriam. The problem is that everyone else we would invite also has little children, and needs to be home with them by the kids' bedtime, so any seder starting at the right time would be just me and my husband.

Otherwise, it would be a great plan.

5/01/2008 11:57 AM  

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