seder meal

Passover is such a significant time for Jewish people all over the world.  The Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a ritual feast, that retells the story of the Israelites being delivered by God from slavery in ancient Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to tell their children the story and pass it down from generation to generation as recorded in Exodus 13:8. The family gathers around the table and reads the text of the Haggadah while eating symbolic food. 

I have so enjoyed the times when I have been privileged to attend a Seder feast and have loved being reminded of this important story through the words being spoken, the questions asked (often by the youngest child), answers given and the food we ate.

Seder meal - Rudee family

My friend Gail Rudee shared with me how she and her husband traveled from Seattle to Los Angeles to celebrate Passover with their son Alex.  Because they were visiting their son they didn’t have Gail’s fancy tableware with them so wine glasses from a wine tasting the previous day did the trick!  Gail cooked her grandma’s “old country” recipes and transported them to LA. and they so enjoyed cooking the last minute dishes together.  When their daughter Talia was not able to attend the seder as she was at college they “skyped” her in!  I love how we can use technology to keep families connected.

Robin Cunningham has four children and shared with me that Passover is their family’s favorite holiday.  They have a number of regulars who attend the meal and then they reach out to new people each year.  Robin says her Christian friends are often the ones most excited to experience a Seder. They have many traditions that add to the richness (and fun) of the experience.  They go around the table and ask everyone what they would take, and why, if they had to leave home in a hurry and knew they were never coming back.  Robin says they have heard some fun responses through the years! 

A Bay Area resident shared, "When I think of Passover, I immediately think of a long night of traditions and a time of remembrance. I think of the opportunity to be with family, talk about the hardships the Jewish people have overcome, and look to the past to inform our future."  Another person added, "When I think about hospitality in the Passover tradition, I'm reminded of Elijah's chair. There's always space for God. And there's always space for another friend to come and join the seder."

I love that.  There's always space for God.  And space for someone else to come to the table.

Check out our Heartistry Pinterest Board for Passover table decor ideas.

10 Things Children Learn at the Dinner Table

Many people are so busy nowadays and are struggling to keep up with their crazy schedule that family meal times are rushed and infrequent, if they happen at all.  There is so much value to the family meal time that it needs to be made a priority.  Here are 10 reasons why. 

1.          Connection-Children are part of a family and gathering at meal times reinforces this and has a deep impact on children’s sense of belonging. It is also very beneficial to gather with grandparents (or older relatives) so that the connection between the generations is understood.

2.          Confidence-Research has shown that children who eat family meals on a regular basis each week are more confident, achieve better academically and are less likely to participate in destructive behaviors as teenagers.

3.          Civility-It is important to have good manners and the dinner table is an essential place to teach children to keep their elbows off the table, eat with their mouths closed, etc. (You remember those table prompts I am sure!)

4.          Conversation-Sharing our day’s news and learning to ask other family members good questions is the basis of effective conversation and can be practiced at the table. Of course, no cell phones should be allowed at the dinner table including those of the parents!

5.          Current affairs-Parents should take time to discuss some of what is happening in the world with their children.  Make sure to only share age-appropriate material and don’t add burdens to your children when they are too young to process them. 

6.          Culinary skills-Children should be encouraged to try different types of food, even if it is just a mouthful so they will be better prepared for the future and not be picky eaters.  Childhood obesity is avoided when families eat healthy food together at the table.

7.          Creativity-Children can help set the table, and be encouraged to add their own creative touch.

8.          Conflict resolution-Different members of the family will have varying ideas on many topics and can learn to discuss these issues courteously at the table.

9.          Cross-cultural understanding-I strongly encourage families to invite people from different countries to join them for meals. This provides an opportunity to expand children’s understanding of the world and teach them geography in the best possible way.

10.      Compassion- Jesus teaches us to not only invite those who can invite us back but to welcome the poor and needy to our table.  This is probably the most challenging part of true hospitality.  Each family needs to think this through for themselves, but inviting a foreign student, elderly person or tired, single mom and her children to join the family meal will teach children to show compassion to others.

Your thoughts:

  • How did family meal times impact you growing up?
  • What practical tips do you have to share that would help others to plan and commit to family meal times?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.  If this was helpful, please SHARE this blog with friends. Sign up to receive our newsletters to that you will be informed when there is a new blogpost or activity in your area. Thanks so much.