Afikomen gifts for the 21st century

The afikomen: Is it dessert or simply a ploy to keep children (and some adults) awake through the seder?

Most people probably would pick the latter, and tend to choose one of two techniques to make finding the half-piece of matzah interesting:

Method No. 1: Hiding the afikomen somewhere in the room/house/neighborhood for the child or children to find it.

Method No. 2: Having a child steal the afikomen from the leader’s place at the table when he or she gets up for washing of the hands. The child then hides it somewhere else and gets to bargain for its release. (This only works if a second child doesn’t take the matzah from the hiding place of the first.)

In either case, there is usually some prize or reward for finding the afikomen, thus allowing the adults to be able to continue the seder and merrily sing “Chad Gadya.”

While most children would probably welcome a monetary gift, you aren’t supposed to give money out at the seder. So, if your family chooses method No. 1, go the present route with one of these kitschy, quirky, “isn’t that cute,” “I wish I got that” items.

Here are some gift ideas:

• Artist Yitzy Erps’ reversible 4 Questions Finger Puppets. Each plush puppet has

a seder item on one side, with its year-round equivalent on the other:b matzah/bread, maror/carrot, cushioned chair/hard chair and karpas/beet. Available at www.judaism.com.

• Language Littles takes bilingual education to a cuddly level with 16-inch Sarah (who is also available in a non-speaking 32-inch version). The company also recently released kippah-wearing David. Press either hand and hear 25 words

and phrases (in American-accented Hebrew) in correct gender agreement. Each doll also comes with a translation booklet and a password to access the game-filled Web site. Available at www.languagelittles.com.

• Yid Gear offers the latest in Passover couture with its “My Ancestors Went to Egypt and All I Got Was This Lousy Matzah T-shirt” for men and women. We all know matzah looks and tastes like cardboard, but who knew it could be funny too? Available at www.cafepress.com/yidgear.

HAPPY PASSOVER