Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.
Charming Story and Picture Book to Learn About a Persian Passover
Families and Neighbors Celebrate Passover and Spring
Etan Basseri's A Persian Passover is a delightful story and picture book for young readers to learn about Iranian Jews and how and when they celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover. Descriptions of the customs and how families prepare for Passover are part of the story. A lesson in friendship is also part of the celebration.
Ezra and his sister Roza are helping their family with preparations for the upcoming celebration of Passover. Ezra and Roza live with their family in a small village in Iran. One day while passing the synogogue, Roza and Eara see the men getting the oven ready to make the matzah bread. The next day, the house is cleaned from top to botom and flowers are set in the house. Mama is busy preparing the special dish called hallaq for the seder meal. Ezra is given a special task to bring the finished matzah bread back to his family. A surprise accident threatens to spoil the seder meal when the matzah bread is lost in a puddle. A lesson in friendship saves the day.
Rashin Kheiriyeh contributed his talents as an illustrator for A Persian Passover. Illustrations are colorful and depict every part of the preparations and celebration that the family and neighbors have for Passover.
Basseri includes a brief history of Passover and Jews in Persia or what is now known as Iran. He includes a glossary of vocabulary words that are related to Passover. He includes an illustration of the food that is part of the seder meal, with a description of what each dish symbolizes. A simple recipe for Hallaq, a Persian-Style Charoset is included.
A Persian Passover is recommended for readers ages 7-12. It wa published by Kalaniot Books, a division of Endless Mountains Publishing Company. It has an ISBN of 978-1-7350875-6-6.
Charming and Colorful Illustrations Help Tell the Story of Passover in Iran
Bring A Persian Passover Into the Classroom for a Multicultural Learning Experience
Some of my favorite learning activities that I prepared for my students in my early elementary classrooms were activities that celebrated multicultural holiday experiences. Picture book and stories were always my go-to resources for introducing the topic or lesson. I always included some activities for the Jewish holiday of Passover, even if I did not have any children from Jewish families in my classroom. My community had a large Jewish population when I taught in Houston, so I always found it appropriate to include learning activities in my classroom for my students to learn about the celebrations.
A Persian Passover is a delightful choice for introducing the Passover holiday that Iranian Jews celebrate. Iranian Jews celebrate Passover at a different time of the year than other Jewish families. Their Passover is celebrated in early spring.
*Read A Persian Passover in a story time session. Call attention to the illustration that features the preparation of the large oven that the matzah bread will be baked in for the village.
*Have a globe available for students to locate Iran on the map.
*Invite a member from the Jewish community to your classroom if possible. Have them bring matzah bread for the students to experience.
*Introduce the vocabulary words that are included at the end of the book for students to learn special vocabulary that is associated with Passover.
*Prepare a seder plate if possible for students to learn about the meal that is served at this special dinner.
*Cooking was always part of my lessons that I prepared for my students with activities to learn about cultural holidays. A recipe for Hallaq is included at the end of A Persian Passover. Have students bring in the ingredients for this dish, a special sauce that is served with the seder meal. This is a classroom-friendly recipe because it is prepared in a blender. It is important to make sure that you do not have any students who are allergic to nuts. This sauce contains pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts along with all of the fruits in the recipe.
A Brief History of Passover in Iran
Iranian Jews celebrate the holiday of Passover at the time of the Persian New Year called Norooz which is celebrated on the first day of spring. Homes are cleaned from top to bottom and new clothes are purchased. The special sauce called haroset is central to the seder meal that is served. Each family has its own recipe for this special fruity sauce. A large silver bowl iw placed in the center of the Seder table with small silver cups filled with water. Each diner takes a little silver cup after tasting the haroset and sips the water from the cup. In old traditions, the water was thought to have special powers. The Pessah story is told after the seder meal. The Iranian Jews feel connected with the Jews in Israel and honor their history during their special celebration of Passover.
© 2022 Cindy Hewitt