Discovering New Passover Traditions

Below is the latest entry in the “Preparing for Passover” Blog written by participants in JOI’s Mothers Circle Program:

My son became a Bar Mitzvah this past year. Why is that of significance to Passover? He’s usually the youngest. Hes been the youngest at both his Godmothers Seder table and ours for years now. Ever since he was able to ask the 4 Questions, he has been asking them beautifully, and thats been quite a while. Personally, I love hearing him, he has a beautiful voice.

Last year he begged me. Do I have to? I’m so tired of it! Of course, I told him, until you’re 99 if you are the youngest! He snarled at me, and I laughed.

Yes, I know, this is really his way of saying he’s tired of being the youngest. And its his way of saying Dayenu! He doesn’t want to be labeled as the youngest. I suspect this year he will feel this even more so. And who can blame him? At the age of 13, having just become a Bar Mitzvah, he wants just that, to be recognized as an adult, not as the youngest.

I’m going to have to think about that one. If you have any suggestions, please chime in below!

This also gets me to thinking about our Afikohmen ritual. The children have always captured the Afikohmen, hidden it and held it for ransom. Books, music or a few crisp dollars has been the usual exchange in recent years. For the past several years the children have pretty much amounted to my son.

One year we celebrated Passover at my sister-in-laws house, her husband Danny is Sephardic. I did not know that there are different traditions amongst the different tribes. They live in North Carolina, so I made certain to pack several Afikohmen presents, not knowing exactly how many children would be at this Seder.

Turns out that I ended up saving them for another time!

Danny’s tradition is one where the afikohmen is not swiped or hidden; but rather it is used as a symbol of the burden the Jews bore. So the Afikohmen is passed around the table. When you have it, you place it on your shoulder, and it remains there until you pass this burden to the next, and so it goes around the table all throughout the Seder until it is finally broken and shared amongst all.

I have to admit that I really didn’t like this tradition at that time. Yes, of course, I favor presents! But perhaps now, as the children are not so much children anymore, perhaps now it is time to rethink this just as we rethink the asking of the 4 questions.

Let me know if you have any suggestions!


  1. The Afikoman always struck me funny, especially the line about ‘everyone getting to share it for dessert.’ I save (and make) waaay to many Pesadicke dessert recipes for the Seder to have anyone think of a piece of Matzoh as dessert! I also never liked the idea of one kid triumphing so however many kids we’ve invited, I make them a ‘team’ that has to hunt for the Matzoh (even if they spread out and one kid finds it, the ‘team’ still ‘wins.’ I usually make the fathers form the competing team, and they keep the kids laughing by looking in ridiculous places for the Afikoman. (Moms putter in the kitchen packing away dinner and setting out the GOOD dessert, dads stretch their legs and look silly and kids get a break and a treat at the end.
    Not sure this helps, Alicia…you may need some loaner children to keep Matt company!

    Comment by Amy — February 24, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

  2. Great blog, Alicia! Thank you for writing.
    Being the youngert at the Seder table carries certain privileges and responsibilities. While Matt may be tired of asking the four questions, this ritual reinforces the Jewish tradition of freely questioning everything! We do not take anything for granted, and the continuation of seeking answers is the very basis of Torah study. It is also part of our history that the youngest child (rather than the expected oldest) carries on our traditions; as in the Jacob and Esau story, Menashe and Ephraim, etc. — so being the youngest is by all means quite central. Of course, if you’re an only chil like me, you get to be both the oldestt and the youngest simultaneously, which brings with it a whole new way of looking at things.

    Comment by Eva Okada — February 25, 2010 @ 1:20 am

  3. Hello, I have just finished an article on one of the newest traditions of Passover, the Miriam’s Cup. I think your readers will find it to be very informative on the history of Miriam and the incorporating the Miriam’s Cup into the Passover Seder. Here is the link:

    Comment by Lana — March 19, 2010 @ 10:27 am

Leave a comment



Click Here!