One Chandler Family’s Passover Traditions With Toddlers


As springtime rolls in, the Jewish holiday of Pesach, more commonly known as Passover is around the corner, this year being celebrated beginning sundown of April 22- ending sundown April 30th. 

As a young girl, Passover was always my favorite holiday, and it wasn’t just because of the Passover Rugrats TV special. 

I love the story of Passover, the traditions, and of course, the food.

Passover was the time where my family came together to sit around my grandparent’s dining room table and tell the history of our Jewish ancestors. 

Passover is one of the more widely known and celebrated holidays in the Jewish calendar. 

Jewish families of different cultural backgrounds and religious observance celebrate the holiday in diverse ways while all sharing the common practice of eating matzah (unleavened bread), telling the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt while enjoying a festive meal, known as a seder. Then we spend the following eight days abstaining from leavened breads, grains and wheat, then end the holiday with another festive meal. 

My family’s cultural background is known as Saphardic, meaning our traditions come from Middle Eastern/North African heritage.

While all Jews abstain from leavened bread during Passover, Saphardic Jews are allowed to eat some grains (such as rice) that Jews from Eastern Europe heritage, known as Ashkanazie Jews are not (lucky us, right!).

How to bring the holiday alive for my toddler.

This year is the first year I feel my son really is starting to understand what is happening. My son recently turned three years old and has become very observant of our family’s traditions. He is starting to ask questions: “What is this holiday about?” (A very Jewish question). 

As a Jewish mother, my goal is to instill a lasting love for our holidays, culture and religion.  This year, I will start to bring him into our family traditions. 

I am excited that this year my son will be old enough to join our family for the Seder, the traditional meal where the story of The Jewish People’s Exodus from Egypt is told. 

A long dinner with the retelling of the story of Exodus, there are many customs incorporating traditional foods that help bring the story to life!

This year I will be making a Seder plate with my son. The Seder plate is traditionally the centerpiece of the Passover table, holding symbolic and traditional foods eaten during the story retelling. 

I’ll be spending time with my son before the Seder to introduce him to each food. Allowing my son to be part of preparing the festive holiday table and making his own Seder plate to use during the meal will be the beginning of a new generation falling in love with old traditions. 

We’ll also make a kid-friendly seder plate (you can find inspiration on Pinterest or Google too!)

  • Clear plastic plate
  • Glue
  • Seder plate labels 
  • Stickers 
  • Tissue Paper.

Passover in the Desert, in the East Valley

A favorite family tradition started by my aunt is a family event cleverly named Passover in the Desert.

The Passover Story takes place in the desert and we do live in a desert. 

Passover in the Desert takes place during the eight days of Passover. 

Our family comes together to share in themed games, costumes made out of old pillow cases, music and food in a local nature park or hike in the East Valley. 

The goal of the event is to bring the story of Passover to life! Remembering our heritage in new ways and creating new traditions inspired by old traditions. 

Every year I look forward to my family’s day together in a local park.

This year, I will take my son on his first Passover Picnic in the Desert. We will go to one of the many kid friendly hikes with matzah pizza or matzah sandwiches and other goodies to enjoy. 

I will bring along a holiday related book to read and share the story of the holiday while we reenact it in a small way. 

Resources for Passover in East Valley, if you’d like to learn more

Contact Phoenix PJ Library for free Jewish children books for kids ages 0-8 years

Chabad of East Valley 

East Valley JCC

Temple Emanuel, Tempe

Chabad of Awkatukee 

The Center for Jewish Philanthropy 

Passover Facts to share with kids

  • Passover is one of widest known and practiced holiday in the Jewish community
  • The Jewish community is filled with diverse heritages, cultures and religious observance, all Jews eat Matzah on Passover 
  • The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar- dictated by the moon cycles. 
  • All Jewish holidays start and end in coordination with the time of sunset in the local area 
  • All Jews outside of Israel celebrate two nights of seder, while Jews in Israel celebrate one night of seder 





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