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Why is There a Football and a Corkscrew on the Seder Table?

(Daily News, 4/3/07): The dinner table at Rabbi Paul Kipnes’ house was topped Monday night with more than the ceremonial food associated with commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. The arrangement of bitter herbs, parsley and matzo also included a football, history book and corkscrew. The purpose of Passover, which began at sundown Monday, is to remind Jews of their deliverance from Pharaoh and to educate Jewish children about the seminal story of their people. So Kipnes, leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, regularly uses props to spark discussion on Passover.

The football, his guests usually say, refers to the angel of the Lord passing over the Jewish homes and sparing their first-born sons. The history book often incites debate about whether the Exodus is the literal history of the Jewish people or a mythical story. And the corkscrew, well, some say it represents the work required to release the joy of life; others the treatment Pharaoh gave the Jews. “It’s the story of the Jews throughout history,” Kipnes said. “My kids are pretty comfortable and well off, and they need to learn from our history and our traditions that their responsibility is not to sit back and enjoy it but to bring others to the table, into freedom.”

[Hint: At various points throughout the seder, I invited different teams to share two of their most creative explanations. During the meal, I collected all the sheets, tallied the answers, and gave out additional prizes to… everyone. If you do not write on Passover, do this same activity verbally throughout the seder.]


  1. Aryeh says:

    A wonderful idea. I adopted it, placing an earring, a flower and a bunch of assorted miniature plastic fruit and vegetables on and around the seder plate. More details on my blog.

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