The energy of Pesach begins building up long before the Seder itself and MJDS students have been learning the importance of the tasks and rituals leading up to the holiday. These activities are both a physical necessity of the holiday and unique learning experiences. Every element of Pesach has a metaphoric equivalent, and when we are preparing for Pesach we are simultaneously preparing ourselves spiritually.
MJDS students began their journey through learning the elements of the Pesach Seder so that they would be able to fully participate. For the Toddlers and Casa this was presented through song, story, and simplified and tactile explanations, while the elementary and middle school children dug deeper into the meaning behind Pesach and how it impacts them personally. Next the students began learning about how the simple act of cleaning can hold such importance. Just as we rid ourselves of chametz before Pesach, so too are we renewing ourselves spiritually by getting rid of unnecessary baggage. A highlight of this process came during a school wide B’dikat Chametz on Tuesday organized by Kita Rimon, our grade 7 and 8, where the children were charged with finding chametz hidden around the Beth David chapel. Casa students were particularly enthralled with this Every time a child found one of the bags of bread the whole group would stop and yell, “chametz!!” The middle school students acted as guides, and in between chametz hunts, took turns sharing information about Pesach and the order of the Seder. The ritual was concluded on Wednesday when once again, the Middle School led their younger peers in a Biur Chametz ceremony. Everyone learned the bracha and the purpose of burning our chametz. There were many shining eyes as the younger groups took turns throwing pieces of bread into the fire.
By the time the children were ready for their class seders the school was already abuzz with energy and excitement. Social responsibility is a core value of MJDS. Upper Elementary children in grades 4-6 led a model Seder at Baycrest. They were rightfully proud of sharing their knowledge and joy with the seniors there. At school the younger children could be seen helping out in every classroom beforehand preparing food and setting the table for the Seder. The children had a blast preparing charoset, boiling potatoes for carpas, and other food for the Seder plate. Class leadership didn’t stop there, and in Magen David all of the children had a role to play in organizing or leading the Seder, with students taking turns reading from the Haggadah. The Casa Seders were lovely, with chairs full of smiling children singing the songs they had been practicing for weeks. Led by our wonderful faculty, the children learned the brachot and the meaning of the items on the Seder plate. The students were all very adventurous, sampling each new food, and all seemed to agree that Matzah was delicious. The children’s’ joy lasted for the rest of the day, radiating throughout the school, and will surely follow them through the rest of the holiday to come.