Whacking Scallions and Silly Songs
April 8, 2022
By Shira Ziller Goldberg

Our family has been hosting a “kid-friendly” Seder since our own children (now 38, 36 and 31) were young.  Our philosophy was simple:  we wanted Jewish holidays to be accessible and full of delight.  An experience that wasn’t always the case when we were growing up in the 60’s.

We started by playing silly games associated with the four cups of wine and the plagues, and then added unique Passover songs sung to more popular music. For instance, “These are a Few of My Passover Things” to the melody of “My Favorite Things” from Sound of Music, and “Take Me Out to the Seder” (Take me out the Seder, Take me out to the crowd. Feed me some Matzoh and Kosher Wine, We’ll eat and drink and have a good time!).  Today we even publish a Goldberg Family Haggadah replete with dozens of silly songs.

But the two customs we have included in our Sederim that continue to bring about the greatest joy (just ask our kids, their spouses and our grandkids), is providing bags of candy about ¼ of the way through the first half, and whacking each other with raw scallions during the singing of Dayeinu.  The candy is derived from Rabbi Akiva who is said to have given children “sweetened dry corn” (candy-like) at the Seder to keep them content.  For the scallion routine, a Sephardi custom, we provide every person at the table with their own “whacking” scallion.  We also remind them, many times, to be gentle to their neighbor!  There are several reasons given for the scallions, but the one we like best, is that the whacking is a reminder of the brutality that our ancestors suffered at the hands of the Egyptians.

One custom we urge everyone to consider for their family Seder (that begins next Friday, April 15th), is a practice I began many years ago to make sure everyone was comfortable making a mess.  I take a small glass of wine or grape juice, and I literally pour it on the table before we begin reading from the Haggadah (we have a great tablecloth from Israel that washes up every time).  People gasp when I do it, but it is meant to put them at ease that even if they or their kids spill, it’s not a big deal.  Afterall, Passover is meant to be full of delight!

Bonus: Salt Water Song (Sung to the tune of “Sounds of Silence”):

Hello family, hello friends.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
This salty water sitting over here,
Represents the toiling Jewish tears.
That they shed as they labored hard
For the Pharaoh’s men.
Remember then,
When you dip your parsley.

Shira Ziller Goldber is an early childhood educator who currently works with the pre-K Kadimah Scholars at Park School.

Whacking Scallions and Silly Songs - Jewish thought of the week graphic