“…He’ll be coming down the mountain by and by. He’ll be holding 10 commandments up on high. And we’ll not be slaves no more. For we’re gonna have the Torah. Singing Aye Aye Yippee Yippee Aye…”
The words may have been new to him, but Moshe Nurtman, 93, was singing them and clapping, too, at a special seder at Clore Manor organised by pupils from Etz Chaim Jewish Primary school.
Throughout their time at the Mill Hill-based school, the children who are now in Year 6 have regularly visited the Jewish Care home in Hendon and performed for the residents, but this was the first time they had conducted a Passover service – and they were well-prepared.
Dressed in their “smart shul clothes”, the class of 11-year-olds arrived with their headteacher, Yvonne Baron, and Haggadot they had designed themselves, ready to break out the matzah and grape juice.
“They have brought in the sunshine,” said Moshe, who was born in Poland and brought to England in 1945 as one of “The Boys”, the group of 732 Jewish children who survived the camps.
“I remember the seders I had with my own family, none of whom survived. They are memories to treasure.”
As seasoned Hebrew readers, the pupils moved swiftly through the service, peppering it with songs sung to popular tunes, but it was the seder recollections of the residents they most enjoyed.
“It is interesting to hear how they celebrated when they were young,” said Noam Yinhal, after hearing Helen Levine, who grew up in Rangoon, Burma, share her story and kubah, a favourite Sephardi Pesach recipe for rice meatballs.
Philip Sonenfeld, 91, talked about his short seders in the East End, and then Cynthia Elf, 83, recalled her father sitting on a throne of cushions.
“I used to climb up behind him and I remember falling asleep as I was singing Dayenu and my mother carrying me up to bed.”
Baron said: “Watching the children and the residents sing Dayenu with smiles on their faces shows how the chagim bridge the generations,” said Baron.
Pupil Mia Greenfield agreed. She said: “I like seeing old people because they are sweet, and it feels like I am spending time with my grandparents.”
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