Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration Creates Innovative and Engaging Haggadah for Families

When the faculty of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration conceived of a Haggadah infused with Jewish educational expertise, they had no idea that so many parents would be drafted into home-schooling or distance learning options with their children. The Azrieli faculty, recognizing that at the Seder table all are teachers and learners, wanted to create a Haggadah that would put innovative teaching tools into the hands of families. On This Night We Are All Teachers offers activities and discussion suggestions for four different age groups: preschool, elementary school, tween/teen and adult learners. This year’s inaugural edition focuses on the Arba’ah [The Four Sons] and the use of questions as an educational strategy.

“We wanted to create a companion to the Haggadah that could be expanded annually, with new activities and ideas,” said Dr. Moshe Sokolow, the Fanya Gottesfeld-Heller Professor of Jewish Education and associate dean of Azrieli, who coordinated the project. “In future years, we will highlight other Haggadah sections, always offering teaching tools for the four developmental levels.”

Dr. Rona Novick, dean of Azrieli, was pleased to have faculty and alumni collaborate on the project. “We are blessed with amazing resources, and we wanted to benefit from and share our alumni’s wisdom and experience in crafting engaging materials for all learners.”

The preschool pages include a questioning game about the wise, wicked and simple child and the one who does not know how to ask. They were jointly authored by Dr. Novick and Sara Kravitsky, early childhood director at the Silverstein Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, New York, and an Azrieli doctoral student.

Dr. Laya Salomon, associate professor of Jewish education and director of Azrieli’s PELE Fellowship Master’s Program, partnered with Rabbi Etan Ehrenfeld, assistant principal at Yeshiva Har Torah in Little Neck, New York, and an Azrieli doctoral student, to create activities for elementary school-aged learners that explore the four children who ask questions at the seder table.

Dr. Moshe Krakowski, director of the master’s program at Azrieli, worked with Henny Bochner, an alumnus of the master’s program as well as an Azrieli doctoral student, on sections for tweens and teens for before and during the seder that focus on the evil child. Bochner is a teacher at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, New Jersey.

Dr. Sokolow and Dr. Ilana Turestsky, instructor in Jewish education at Azrieli, developed a provocative discussion prompt for adult learners to explore the consequences of evil in a religious community.

The Haggadah companion was generously sponsored by David and Sharon Rauch in honor of their children and grandchildren. Mr. Rauch, a longtime Bergen county resident and supporter of Jewish education, serves as the chairman of the Azrieli Board of Overseers. “This is the first edition of what we expect will be an annual tradition,” said Dr. Sokolow. “We look forward to engaging the talented alumni of the Azrieli Graduate School to build a compendium of well-designed lessons for all ages at the seder table.” Considering how the coronavirus will be radically changing the ways families celebrate their Passover seders, Dr. Novick said, “Whether we are able to be together with extended family or are sharing small, intimate seders, there is no better way to celebrate our redemption than to teach and learn together.”