I hosted not one, but TWO seder dinners today in my 7th grade reading classes. Passover is certainly passed and over, but we had to wait to import some matzos. Passover foods are scarce in these parts. For the past month my reading classes have been studying and discussing some age-appropriate aspects of the Holocaust as introduced in The Devil's Arithmetic. Interest is high. I've done my best (because I ever strive to be a full service literature teacher...yeah right) to stumble over the Yiddish and bring some small understanding of Jewish history and customs to light. I can guarantee my charades and explanation of a bris would have brought the house down in the right setting. Being the goy that I am, I modified the meal today. After a youtube briefing on the seder plate ingredients and their symbolism, a sincere explanation of the why of Passover by Virtual Rabbi Axelrod, AND a vivid step back into a review of the plagues and the flight from Egypt (yeah howdy!) on another youtube, we peeled and chopped apples, poured grape juice, broke matzos and even sampled some horseradish. We also opened a can of sardines that my "Passover Connection" had sent along as well as some grand macaroons. I gave a smashing explanation of kosher, threw in what I know about some other Jewish holidays gleaned from books and a tight friendship with Margie in NJ whose husband was a rabbi, and tied it all up with a back reference to the seder dinner as depicted in our novel. I was delighted when one of the kids offered to hide the matzo (they DO listen!!). We covered our eyes and counted to 20. Then Houston enthusiastically volunteered to open the door for Elijah (yet AGAIN they listened!!). I said sure, and then the next thing I heard was a chorus of, "Elijah kidnapped Houston!!" What 7th grade boy could resist disappearing once any door is opened, let alone one from which an ancient Old Testament prophet might appear? I don't know any. Not to worry. Houston has an identical twin, Hayden, so we had a spare. Will update on Houston when we get the note. Anybody out there read, "The Ransom of Red Chief"...?