Mr. Matzah, a Cartoon Man, Highlights Online Guides to Passover

A video of Chasidic rabbis being interviewed by a Muppet is just one of the many Passover guides available on the Web this season. While many Jewish organizations offer at least a written explanation of the holiday and its key rituals, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s Web site — www.chabad.org — with its multimedia entertainment, global list of public seders and the cartoon figure Mr. Matzah — stands out for its user-friendliness.

In addition to its listing of community seders, which was also offered last year, chabad.org this month debuted an interactive seder plate, videos about making Passover wine and matzah, a step-by-step wizard for finding and burning chametz, a form for selling chametz online, spiritual teachings on various aspects of the holiday and a listing of Passover-specific halachic deadlines — as well as the above-mentioned video of a matzah factory tour, starring Jono the Journalist.

Children can head for the games and coloring book section, and cooks can print out Passover recipes. It’s all presented with Chabad’s usual combination of folksy humor, colorful illustration and serious Torah insights. Visitors can navigate the site alone, or with the help of Mr. Matzah, a multimedia animated figure.

The Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements all offer text-only guides to Passover on their Web sites.

The Web site operated by the Orthodox Union — www.ou.org — is the most comprehensive, featuring a detailed guide to the holiday’s halachic requirements and a list of Passover-friendly supermarkets and restaurants in greater New York and south Florida.

Of the three major denominations, only the Conservative movement — www.uscj.org/Pesach — provides a listing of community seders, and only for 23 of its member congregations nationwide.

Among other Jewish Web sites, Aish HaTorah’s is noteworthy for the scenic, ocean-swept welcome video on its homepage — www.aish.com. Aish offers several Passover videos, but, like the O.U.’s, they must be purchased. The United Jewish Communities Web site — www.ujc.org — offers a listing of community seders in the United States, most of them Chabad-sponsored events.

Several local federations have posted their own on-line listings of nearby community or special-interest seders; the number and quality varies from city to city. The UJA-Federation of New York provides a listing of 48 synagogues, JCCs and restaurants in the five boroughs that are offering seders, but the list is available only by telephone — 1-800-852-3337 — because of a lack of resources, a federation spokesman said.

The National Jewish Outreach Program, an Orthodox-run nonprofit geared to attracting unaffiliated Jews, also offers a concise, text-only Passover guide, with spiritual reflections, at www.njop.org.

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