Though the songs of the seder are pretty classic, from the Four Questions to Dayenu to Chad Gadya, they sometimes get…well, boring. And if you want to keep your kids engaged, you might want a slightly bigger list of songs you can bring into the mix.
Here are Kveller’s top picks:
1. Shira Kline, ShirLaLa Pesach
Even though this is supposed to be a list of individual songs, I’ve got to recommend a whole album here. ShirLaLa Pesach is kind of like a musical version of the hagaddah that helps explain the Passover story and seder to kids. It includes classics like “Let My People Go” and “Frogs” but also has some helpful seder songs, like the special tune for the Passover kiddush and the Four Questions. If you play it a few times before Passover, your kids will be more familiar with and excited about the seder. And they might even want to play it during the seder. Which always helps when your off-key uncle is trying to lead the kiddush…
2. Debbie Friedman, “Miriam’s Song” (from Songs of the Spirit)
Debbie Friedman will forever be known as the woman who changed the face of Jewish music, and this song is one of the reasons why. The Passover story is filled with the actions of Moses, his brother Aaron, Pharaoh, and God. Now, we don’t know which gender God is (or if God has a gender at all), but there’s not a lot of space for women in the hagaddah. Then along came Debbie Friedman and transformed a moment in the text into a song that celebrates Miriam, Moses’ sister, and all the women of the Passover story. The song is upbeat and very danceable for little ones (and for you too!)
3. Mah Tovu, “Pharaoh Pharaoh” (from Pharaoh Pharaoh)
This song is to the tune of the 1960’s hit, Louie Louie, and the lyrics go through the Passover story from Moses’ point of view: “Pharaoh Pharoah, oh baby let my people go!” I’ll admit that I own a Pharaoh hat (purchased at The Luxor, a Las Vegas casino) that I like to break out for this song. You know, to get into character. Somehow I do my best Elvis Presley impersonation when wearing that hat and singing this song. After all, this song is as close to Elvis Presley as Jewish music gets.
4. Peter and Ellen Allard, “Ten Plagues in Egypt Land” (from Bring the Sabbath Home)
When it comes to Jewish music designed for young children, Peter and Ellen Allard are perhaps the best musicians out there. Their music inspires kids to move and dance while subtly teaching them lessons about Jewish holidays and concepts. And though I’m not always a fan of singing about the 10 plagues (it doesn’t feel right to me to dance about plagues), this fast-paced song also helps kids practice their counting. And they do learn the plagues in order. So I can get down with it.
5. The Mama Doni Band, “Rasta Pasta” (from I Love Herring (and Other Fish Shticks))
Mama Doni and her band are known for making all kinds of music into Jewish music. This song adds a bit of reggae to your Passover with lyrics listing all of the things you can’t eat for Passover, and then all the things you can eat again once it’s over. I can’t exactly say that that it channels Bob Marley…but it is pretty funny.