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A Persian Passover Book Review & Activities

“We learned that anyone who is in need of a place for the seder is welcome. Let’s celebrate together!”

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Experience the sights, smells, sounds, and unique traditions of a seder in 1950s Iran.

A Persian Passover by Etan Basseri takes the reader back in time with a sweet story about family, community, and a special holiday celebration.

In preparation for the family Passover celebration, siblings Ezra and Roza are tasked with bringing flour to the synagogue to be mixed, rolled, and baked into soft, delicious matzah (the only bread that can be eaten during the week of Passover).

The children watch in awe as their flour turns into warm matzah. They wrap the discs in cloth to keep them warm and begin to head back home.

Ezra, who loves to race, jets off with the matzah in hand. He hits a rut in the road, trips, and falls. The bag of matzah drops into a puddle! Now what? The family is expecting matzah for the celebration.

Roza suggests they return to the market for help. Unfortunately, it’s about to close for Passover, and no one has extra matzah to share. Instead, the friendly vendors offer other items for their celebration, and the children return home with scallions and candied almonds. But no matzah.

Just as they are about to tell their parents about what happened, they run into their friendly neighbor, Mrs. Pirnazar. And it turns out that she has plenty of matzah to share, as she will be celebrating Passover alone this year.

As the siblings accept her kind offer, they insist that she join their family for the seder.

The final spread is so beautiful, with the neighbors sitting around a large sofreh decorated with a seder plate, charoset, scallions, dyed eggs, green sprouts, and MATZAH.

Backmatter includes information about Passover, a glossary of Hebrew and Persian words used in the story, an illustrated seder plate with descriptions of the traditional foods, a brief history of Jews in Persia, and a recipe for Hallaq (Persian-style charoset).

Etan Basseri was born and raised in Berkeley, California with a mix of Persian and Ashkenazi Jewish customs. He now lives in Seattle with his wife and children, where he is always responsible for making the Passover charoset.

Rashin Kheiriyeh is an award-winning illustrator/author, animator and painter. She is the character artist of the Iranian animation series called Sugarland/Shekarestan for national TV in Iran.

Book Activities

Discuss the story. What do you think might happen next Passover? Does Ezra remind you of anyone you know? What advice do you have for Ezra? Would you have solved the problem a different way? What words describe Mrs. Pirnazar? Who helps you when you’re in trouble? What did you learn about the Passover celebration? Do you have any questions for the author?

Download a free Activity Guide from the publisher.

Explore the geography and culture of Iran.

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