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isa Parshan, of Southfield,
likes to put a little something
special underneath her fami-
ly's plates on Pesach. Frogs.
Don't worry — the frogs aren't alive.
They're the common plastic variety,
found at most dollar stores. But their job
is anything but ordinary. They, along
with numerous other fun props, are
there to keep the Parshan seder, well,
Like parents everywhere, Dovid and
Lisa Parshan love having a seder with
their children. But this can be challeng-
ing when your children are tiny and sit-
ting still for a few minutes (much less a
few hours for the seder) is a challenge.
So the Parshans — parents of Shira, 8;
Avi, 6; and Eli, 4 — have lots of Pesach
toys and activities. This year, Lisa has
prepared a Makot (plagues) bucket, filled
with cool stuff to use at the table.
During the reading of the 10 Plagues,
for example, the Parshans take out cot-
ton balls and throw them (that's a softer
version of hail). They bring out a bevy
of fierce creatures (small, plastic zoo ani-
mals) when it comes time to talk about
the wild animals. There's a back scratch-
er, to help with those itchy boils, and
rubber grasshoppers, the bigger the bet-
This year, though, Lisa is thinking
about surprising her children and keep-
ing the grasshoppers hidden on her lap
instead of in the bucket, "then I'll just
pop them out" at the appropriate time.
At 4, Eli is still learning to read. But
"he likes to stay up" for the whole seder,
Lisa says, and he likes to participate. As
the youngest member of the family, it is
his job to recite Mah Nishtanah ("Why
is This Night Different?"), but that can
be a bit daunting when you're still learn-
ing to read. So Eli's mom prepares him a
special Mah Nishtanah kit, a kind of
Pesach teleprompter. Among the items
within: a piece of matzah (to answer
"why do we eat only matzah on this
night?") and his sister's Barbie chair,
which helps Eli remember the reclining
Because the Parshans understand that
sitting still a long time can be a bit
much for little ones, they keep their
seder moving — literally. While not
Sephardi, they have adopted the
Sephardic custom of marching around
the room, carrying matzah, while they
sing `Avadim Hayenu"("We Were
Slaves"). "It makes it a little more excit-
ing," Lisa explains.
Sometimes, the Parshans travel to spend
the holiday with out-of-town family. For
this, naps are a ne c essity.
Even when they just stay at home,
Lisa recommends having the children
shower early (think of baths before bed),
then nap or just have a quiet time. Lisa
and Dovid take turns reading to their
younger children, who invariably fall
asleep. It helps. Last year, they "made it
all the way to the end of the seder
[about 2 a.m.]."
And when they do, they get to sing
"Chad Gadya, "but with a twist. "They
make the animal noises to represent the
animals in the song," Lisa says. (What
could be more fun when you're 6 than
mooing and bleating?)
A few more hints from the Parshan
• Lisa buys a Haggadah for each child
(she likes the ArtScroll version) and they
review it together. As they read, the chil-
dren prepare their own commentaries.
Lisa then writes notes about their
remarks on Post-It Notes, which can be
affixed directly to the appropriate page.
This way, all that interesting information
children came up with, or learn at
school, won't be forgotten.
• The Parshans also like to extend
every child's favorite part of the seder,
the hiding of the Afikoman. In the
Parshan home, first Dovid hides the
Afikoman and the children find it, then
the children hide the Afikoman and their
father has to find it.
Out On The Table
If children attend any kind of Jewish
school — from day school to Sunday
school to Hebrew school to nursery —
invariably they have lots of handmade
holiday-related treasures: drawings,
"Their projects can be laid between
the tablecloth and the plastic covering it
for all to see," suggests Chaya Devorah
Bergstein of West Bloomfield.