Passover is a particularly joyful time of year around Kaplan Cooperative Preschool. At long last, spring has sprung, and the students (and teachers!) are thrilled to be back outside in the fresh air and sunshine after an unbearably long winter – enjoying a bit of freedom, one might say. Also, as the school year begins to wind down, the children have matured so much, and they seem able to understand the story and meaning of Pesach on a much deeper level.
The tale of Moses, from his infancy through to the miracle on the banks of The Red Sea, is alive each day at Kaplan School. Many of the children use the toy babies in the dramatic play area of the classroom to reenact Moses’ voyage as a baby in the basket in the river. Don’t fear, the teachers have reassured the kids that none of their mommies will put them in a basket in the Hudson River!
Each class, from the tiniest Parparim to our seniors in the Susim class, has created a Haggadah for use at home at the family Seder. The children have made pages representing various aspects of the Passover experience, from the burning bush, to the plagues of frogs and locusts, to the four questions.
When the classes go to visit Rabbi Rob in the sanctuary for Shabbat, he reminds us that Passover is about freedom. The children laugh as he pretends to wield a shovel, working hard for King Pharaoh. ‘Please, can I take a rest? Can I have a drink of water?’ he asks. The kids are eager to play their part and respond with the angry voice of King Pharaoh, ‘No, no, no! Keep working!’ It’s a fun exchange, but the meaning stays with them. At Kaplan we encourage the children to ‘make your own choice,’ and, ‘be in charge of yourself.’ Even many of the youngest students are able to draw the connection from the bravery of Moses leading us out of Egypt to the liberties we enjoy today.
At Kaplan, our students enjoy each holiday through music, art, storytelling, food and family. Each day, preschool skills such as literacy, math and science are integrated into this rich experience.
Nora Martinez DeBenedetto