Shoah seder — too young to know

By Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

We are walking home from shul, my son and I, my arm on his shoulders, his arm hooked awkwardly up to my neck. We take this short walk often on Shabbat, but tonight is Sunday, he’s in sweats and sneakers, and we’re discussing the Holocaust.

We’ve just come from a Yom HaShoah seder at B’nai David-Judea Congregation, a ritual our rabbi, Yosef Kanefsky, implemented several years ago to ensure the perpetuation of the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Yair, who is 10, and I agree on the most jarring moment of the evening. It was when the rabbi asked all the children in the room — there were probably 40 or 50 kids among the 140 guests — to leave their parents’ sides and stand up against the wall.

“It felt really weird to have to leave you and stand there with all these people I don’t really know,” Yair tells me as we walk.

He acknowledges that the moment is symbolic — he knew I was 20 feet away, that in two minutes he would come back and sit by my side. But it was enough for him to get a hint of what it might have felt like for kids and parents to be separated.

The teens at B’nai David create new content for the hagaddah every year, adapting Holocaust literature into short scripts that they read at the seder — this year about a son who goes off to Budapest just when the Nazis invade, a mother and daughter and a bowl of soup, a neighbor girl who finds a dead baby.