Next week, Jews all over the world, including me, will celebrate Passover. While it’s the holiday marking our Exodus from Egypt, it also may be the longest-running marketing campaign ever. It’s got every single element the advertising industry ever eventually dreamed up, starting with:
1) A tag line. “Let my people go.”
2) A jingle. See above. Powerful song. More anciently, we also sing a ditty called “Dayenu,” which is Hebrew for “it would have been sufficient” — as in, “Even if God just took us out of Egypt, it would’ve been sufficient. And even if he’d just given us food to eat in the desert, it would’ve been sufficient.” A chorus of just one word? Brilliant!
3) Games! Deals! Christians hide Easter eggs; Jews hide a piece of matzo, the hard, unleavened bread that reminds us of the fact we had to leave Egypt so quickly that we didn’t have time for our bread dough to rise. Kids then go on a hunt for this missing matzo, and whoever finds it gets a prize. (And usually, so do all the other kids. It saves a lot of tears.) Consider it the world’s first redeemable coupon.
4) Keep ‘em hungry for more. How do you get people to pay attention for five full hours on Super Bowl Sunday? Chips and dip! You give them just enough snacks to keep them happy, but not quite enough to fill them up. Well, on Passover, we’ve got the equivalent of chips and dip: While we read the story of the Exodus before we eat the big meal, we are commanded to nibble ceremonial foods, including bitter herbs that remind us of slavery’s bitterness, as well as a sort of applesauce mixture that reminds us of the mortar we used as slaves building the pyramids. Hey — it’s sufficient!
5) Audience participation. That Exodus story we read? We go around the table and everyone participates. I read out loud a paragraph, and then the little cousin next to me does the same, and then it’s Grandma’s turn, etc., etc. That keeps everyone’s attention.
6) Bring home the message. Here’s one sentence that comes up over and over. Not, “This is what God did for my ancestors.” It’s, “This is what God did for me.” In other words: This is not my father’s festival of freedom. It’s mine!
7) Bring home the kids! Like Easter and Christmas, Passover is also about all the generations being together. So the older generation will always host a Passover celebration, or Seder, because that way, the kids will always come. Well, often come. Except when it’s semester-abroad time. Or they got married and moved to Paris. Or they’ve gone vegan. Or they’ve decided they hate — well, anyway, point is, if you can get buy-in from all the generations, you’ve got a hit! And, really, usually the kids do come.
8) Add wine. On Passover, we are commanded to drink FOUR WHOLE CUPS. Who’s gonna say no to a holiday like that?
9) Come up with a great brand name. It should be easy to spell. Easy to pronounce. And it should mean something, like the fact that when God was slaying the firstborns, he passed over the families who’d put lamb’s blood on their doors. Hmm.
10) Add the Ten Commandments. Everyone likes a list.
Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids.”