"At my brother's Seder, some of it was conducted in English, and we each took part in it," she said.
The experience was a contrast to the Passovers of her childhood, which she described as "very orthodox and traditional."
To help make the Passover celebration more meaningful for children, Schilder last year published a 24-page activity and storybook introducing the Passover symbols.
In honor of her brother and his wife, she called the book The Passover Seder at Aunt Estelle's House.
"I'm always trying to think of things to write about for children, particularly to make things more meaningful for them," she said.
The Passover Seder will be celebrated by Jews throughout the world on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This year, Schilder has written a parent and teacher's guide with additional activities to accompany the book, which is sold for $3.50 at synagogue gift shops and Jewish book stores.
Schilder said she was "completely absorbed in thinking about Passover" in 1985. She said she was preparing her own house, and thinking about the Seder she would attend at her brother's house, when the idea "came into my head."
The story, which is written in verse, borrows the rhythm from the last song in the Haggada, a book containing the Seder ritual and the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.
Each stanza in Schilder's poem introduces a different Passover symbol. The stanzas are repeated thoughout the poem to make it easier for young children to learn the symbols:
These are the herbs we dip,
These are the prayers we chant,
These are the questions we ask,
This is the matzah we hide . . .
And we are the people who come to enjoy
The Passover Seder at Aunt Estelle's house.
"It makes the Passover Seder a very vivid experience for the youngsters who read the book," said Rabbi Sidney Greenberg of Temple Sinai in Dresher. ''It helps Passover come alive."
Rabbi Greenberg reviewed Schilder's book before it was published, checking the contents and the illustrations for accuracy.
He said Jewish families have celebrated Passover for about 3,200 years. To keep the tradition meaningful, he wrote a modern version of the Haggada in 1971. It includes a blessing used by Jews interned at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, recognizing other struggles for freedom.
Rabbi Greenberg praised Schilder's book because it included activities for children and their families. There are songs to sing and blank pages for children to draw pictures illustrating their family Seder.
"The more people involve themselves, the more precious it becomes to them," Rabbi Greenberg said.
Schilder originally published her poem in Shofar, a magazine for Jewish children.
"As time went on I kept looking at it and thought it would make a good book," she recalled.
In search of an illustrator, Schilder contacted JoAnn Siegel of Lafayette Hill, a free-lance calligrapher, graphic designer and teacher, who had once taught her calligraphy at an evening class at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
Siegel enthusiasticlly joined the project and suggested some of the activities included in the book.
"I really enjoyed doing the book so I could give it to my children," said Siegel, the mother of three young children.
"There's really no other book in the market like this," she said. "I think it should be in the hands of every Jewish child."