What insired your Passover story?
Years ago, when my husband and I were newlyweds, we took a Jewish Holiday Workshop class on how to enrich your holiday celebrations. When we were doing the Passover unit, the class held a mock seder. I wrote a poem to read at the end that recapped the steps of the seder and the meaning behind it all -- that all people are meant to be free. We subsequently used the poem at our own seders, and someone who heard it suggested that it would make a great children's book. I didn't think much of it at the time, but the seed had been planted.
Were there challenges along the way?
I'm Conservative, and the manuscript was purchased by an Hachai, an Orthodox publishing house. Understandably, they wanted the language to represent their readership. So I needed to change some of the wording. For example, Egypt was changed to Mitzrayim and Elijah to Eliyahu. And that meant I had to adjust meter and rhyme accordingly.
How did you feel when you first saw the illustrations?
It's pretty exciting to see your words come to life. And while the family depicted on the illustrations doesn't necessarily look like my family, I'm really impressed with the detail and richness of the illustrations.
What is your favorite thing about Passover?
Besides matzah balls? I like how it can connect tradition and innovation. Passover brings back fond memories from my childhood -- my grandfather leading the seder in Hebrew, cousins gathered around the table, and of course, wonderful food. At the same time, we've tried to enliven our seders with new activities and new readings -- like the poem and Passover trivia games -- to help keep it relevant and engaging for the next generation.
Thanks, Nancy! To learn more about Nancy, please visit at Nancy Steiner