Bringing Passover to Life, Through Play

Theater can help us experience a story in a way that makes it feel real, personal, and immediate. We can walk in the shoes of a character, understand their journey, and feel a personal connection. We can lose ourselves in the world of a story, and find that we’ve been changed along the way. Arts education research suggests that when children experience a story in an embodied multi-sensory way, they actually experience a deeper sense of understanding and memory-making. Exploring through theater can make the story stick and create lasting impact.

This experiential approach is built into the traditional rituals of Passover. We retell the story of the Exodus each year by way of an immersive, sensory theatrical event otherwise known as the Seder. We connect with the experiences of the Israelites through our senses – tasting the “tears” through salt water, feeling the texture of the “mortar” through charoset, enduring a physical bitterness while eating maror, reclining to simulate the feeling of freedom, reciting the script of the Haggadah, and filling the room with song.

How can the modalities of theater and multi-sensory play help us bring the actual story of Exodus to life, deepening our connection with the past while recognizing the ways it can speak to our world today?

Here are a few examples from my organization, The K’ilu Company, of ways you can use theatrical play and imagination to connect yourselves and the children in your lives to Passover. The resources listed here can be used as part of a Seder, at home or in your community.

You can sign up here for a free download of a Passover-focused excerpt of my forthcoming book, Let There Be Play: Bringing the Bible to Life through Play. Set to be published in June, this new interactive guide for parents and educators brings every Torah portion to life through hands-on play for 4 to 7-year-olds and their grownups. The excerpt features part of the Exodus story. Learn more about the book at

Passover Adventure Kits bring the story of the holiday to life for families at home through immersive theater. A guided audio experience featuring original music and immersive sound design offers children and families the chance to act out the story using homemade props and imagination – following Miriam down to the Nile, chasing Moses into the wilderness, confronting Pharaoh, and dancing with the Israelites across the Sea of Reeds to freedom.

Grandparents and grandchildren can use our Passover Discovery Kit (a partnership with the Jewish Grandparents Network) to build miniature tabletop scenes, or use a participatory story script at the Seder – either in person or at a distance.

Finally, my company is staging a fully produced immersive musical called Across the Sand at the Northbrook Theatre. In this theatrical retelling, the audience is seated at long tables dressed as Seder tables, that are transformed into miniature stages on which the show unfolds. A cast of actor-musicians perform the Passover story through interactive play, live music, and puppetry.

This year, try acting out the story of Passover using these resources or your own creativity. Consider how theater and play can help you and your family find new connections to this ancient story “k’ilu” – as if – you were there.

Chag Sameach,
Jonathan Shmidt Chapman