NEW YORK, March 11 (JTA) — Most children do not like to clean, especially the extra-meticulous cleaning needed to prepare a home for Passover. In my family, to make the time go faster, my mother would play a Passover record for my brother and me. While we helped clean, we would listen to the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. Thanks to my mother’s ingenuity, time flew. I grew up listening to the same record year after year, but today’s kids have myriad items to help prepare them for Passover. Nearly two dozen books and videos are available, and range from fictional accounts of seders to a video hosted by author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Tomie dePaola, author of the children’s classic “Strega Nona,” wrote “My First Passover,” published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. This concise book for toddlers introduces the holiday, the seder plate and the cup of Elijah as well as other symbols of Passover. “Matzoh Mouse” by Lauren Wohl is a delightful tale about Sarah who slowly finishes most of the chocolate-covered matzah before Passover starts. After the seder, Sarah’s parents discover the missing matzah and realize that they have a matzah mouse in their house. “Matzoh Mouse” is a Charlotte Zolotow Book, a division of HarperCollins. Passover on a farm in Poland before the World War II is brought to life in the book “Passover As I Remember,” by Toby Knobel Fluek. Fluek tells readers how her family, one of a few Jews in a small village, would prepare for Passover. Fluek recalls watching her mother make raisin wine and how her father brought a shochet, or ritual slaughterer, to their village so they would have kosher meat for Passover. Other recollections include Fluek’s sister making her a new dress for the holiday and bringing leather to the shoemaker for new shoes. Unlike any other book on Passover, this one recalls a way of life that is lost forever. It is published by Alfred A. Knopf Books. Young baseball fans will love “Matzah Ball A Passover Story” by Mindy Avra Portnoy. It is the story of miracles, and Elijah the prophet offering comfort to someone in need. Aaron is thrilled to learn that he will be going to a baseball game. But his joy turns to disappointment when Aaron learns that he will have to bring his own food because it is Passover. When his non-Jewish friends go to the concession stand, Aaron meets a kind old man. The man tells Aaron about his days as a youngster when Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, N.Y., was filled with Jews eating matzah. When a fly ball comes his way, Aaron uses his matzah to help catch the ball. Thrilled with his catch, Aaron turns around to show the old man but he is gone. Aaron’s “matzah ball” is proof that miracles do happen. This book is one of several about Passover available from Kar-Ben Copies, Inc. The repetitious nature of the seder song “Chad Gad Yah” is used to tell the story “The Matzah that Papa Brought Home” by Fran Manushkin. The story uses repetition to tell readers what happens on Passover night — having a seder, singing the song “Dayenu,” eating matzah and asking the four questions. Just like every paragraph in the song “Chad Gad Yah” ends with those three words, each page in this book ends with the line “the matzah that Papa brought home.” The illustrations in this book, published by Scholastic Books, are exceptional. Each picture looks like an oil painting. The pictures capture the depth of the character’s faces. Passover videos make use of live action, puppets, animation and even moving clay figurines to bring the seder experience alive. “The Animated Haggadah” is one of the oldest videos about Passover available. It uses a mixture of moving clay figures and animation to tell the story of Passover. Danny, a mischievous 12-year-old boy, leads the viewers through the seder as he imagines himself and those around him in the roles of people mentioned in the Haggadah. In one scene Danny imagines he is a young Abraham. When his father takes him to a store that sells idols, Danny destroys all the idols. Danny speaks about the holiday in words and tones that kids will easily understand. “The Animated Haggadah” is produced by Scopus Films and also is available in book and CD-Rom form. The gang from the PBS series “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” introduces children of all faiths to the customs, traditions and stories of the holiday in “Shari’s Passover Surprise.” Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse try to cook the Passover meal, and with the help of guests Dom DeLuise and Robert Guillaume, Shari and friends celebrate. Infused with original songs “Shari’s Passover Surprise” is a lively and fun way for children to learn about Passover. It is an 8 Candle Production, with Youngheart Music. A book designed to accompany the video also is available. “A Passover Seder presented by Elie Wiesel,” is perhaps the most detailed of all the videos. This video is not as entertaining as the others, but it does explain in greater detail the story and practices of the Passover seder. Wiesel’s video mixes live action and animation to help illustrate the seder experience. In the video a family prepares for and celebrates Passover. The mother explains the significance of each item on the seder plate. The children recite the four questions. The grandparents explain why Moses is barely mentioned in the Haggadah and why they take wine out of their glasses while reciting the 10 plagues. Distributed by Kidvision, this video is excellent for older children, who will want to know more about the meanings behind what transpires at the seder table.
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