The Many Seders of Passover
By JONATHAN GRONER, REBECCA GUTTERMAN, RABBI ABBY SOSLAND, and JUDITH
A DIFFERENT NIGHT
The Family Participation Haggadah
By Noam Zion and David Dishon.
160 pages. Shalom Hartman Institute. $17.95.
The authors, affiliated with the Shalom Hartman Institute in
Jerusalem, begin with the Judaically and educationally correct premise that the
seder is and ought to be a wonderful example of teaching and learning by doing.
"You shall tell your child about the Exodus," the Torah commands, and
this haggadah is designed to permit you to do just that. It retains the
traditional text and adds rabbinic stories, ancient interpretations, bits of
Zionist and Holocaust history--all in a child-friendly environment. It is
beautifully and diversely illustrated with everything from Chagall and Ben
Shahn pieces to medieval woodcuts to children's drawings. Various artistic
renderings of the Four Sons are sprinkled throughout in an effort to elicit
questioning and discussion. Two caveats: the child-oriented games can get a bit
cloying, as in a proposed contest to name the "yukkiest plague." And
the Hebrew typeface is a bit small in places.
A PASSOVER HAGGADAH
Edited by Herbert Bronstein.
Illustrated by Leonard Baskin.
123 pages. Central Conference of American Rabbis. $20.
This Reform rabbinical organization omits a good deal of the
Hebrew text and seems to presuppose a relatively short, streamlined seder. The
haggadah is beautifully designed, with drawings by contemporary artist Leonard Baskin,
and brings in very appropriate and well-chosen readings from a number of
sources: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Erich Fromm, Hasidic tales, the Book of
Psalms. The karpas--spring vegetable--portion of the ceremony is accompanied
here by a passage from the Song of Songs. "For lo, the winter is past.
Flowers appear on the earth." An excellent idea. Still, the balance seems
somewhat off center: Why skip some traditional portions of the maggid--the
narrative section--and devote two dozen out of just over one hundred pages to
the musical notation of Passover Songs?
THE FEAST OF FREEDOM
Edited by Rachel Anne Rabinowicz
120 pages. United Synagogue Book Service. $12.95.
This is the Conservative movement's version of the haggadah
and it includes nearly all the traditional words of the text. An attractively
produced book as well, it relies quite successfully on a series of
bright-colored abstract shapes to create a warm, expansive mood. There are a
few new insertions into the text and a commentary, neatly placed in the
margins, illuminates the concepts behind the haggadah. In addition to the
traditional four cups of wine, this version features a "fifth cup"
ceremony based on the ingathering of the Jewish Diaspora to Israel.
A NIGHT OF QUESTIONS
A Passover Haggadah
Edited by Joy Levitt and Michael Strassfeld.
Illustrated by Jeffrey Schrier.
160 pages. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. $18.
We were slaves in Egypt, but that will never really be past
tense until messianic redemption. That is one of themes running through the
commentary of A Night of Questions published under the auspices of the
Reconstructionist movement. The poetry, story, art and prayer selected here
deepens one's understanding of the seder. This is a thinking family's haggadah,
particularly intriguing for the way it regards skepticism as a tenet of faith.
Reconstructionist Jews do not necessarily except the Exodus as historical
truth. What impresses them most about Passover is the way ritual and symbolism
have endured and inspired Jews for thousands of years.
THE SHALOM SEDERS
Compiled by the New Jewish Agenda.
103 pages. Lambda Publishers.
In his introduction, Rabbi Arthur Waskow explains that
"the very word haggadah (literally, 'telling') teaches us to rewrite the
haggadah." These seders, three haggadot within one book, offer several
opportunities for social action. The book includes a "Rainbow Seder,"
originally written for Passover 1969, the first anniversary of the
assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. There is a "Seder of the Children
of Abraham," focusing on building bridges between Arabs and Jews; and a
"haggadah of Liberation," which began as a collection of stories on
women's liberation, and now reads as tales of resistance, that occurred mostly
during the Holocaust.
A SEPHARDIC PASSOVER HAGGADAH
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel.
KTAV Publishers. $10.
The traditional text is interspersed with blessings that are
translated into Ladino--a mixture of medieval Spanish and Hebrew. In his
introduction, Rabbi Angel states that "the purpose of this haggadah is to
bring Sephardic insights and practices to the seder tables of our
generation." The commentary of Sephardic sages enlivens the Exodus story
as does presenting various customs such as placing the afikomen inside of a
sack and having everyone at the seder placing it over his or her shoulder to
experience the Israelites' burdens as they left Egypt.
THE BRESLOV HAGGADAH
Translated by Yehoshua Starret.
Compiled by Chaim Kramer.
Edited by Moshe Mykoff
256 pages. Breslov Research Institute. $16.
Coming from a traditional perspective, the commentaries in
this haggadah are from the luminous teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.
Metaphors about connection and light abound in the text. Although, the language
is patriarchal, this haggadah may be the perfect supplement to more basic story
THE CARLEBACH HAGGADAH
Seder Night with Reb Shlomo
Edited by Chaim Stefanksy.
182 pages. Urim Publications. $17.
The traditional haggadah is enriched with running commentary
by the late Reb Shlomo Carlebach. During the Four Questions, Reb Shlomo
interjects his own questions for God. "God in heaven, why is this night so
long? Why is exile so long? Above all, I don't understand, how are we so free?
We were celebrating Pesach in Auschwitz and Mauthausen. Yidden would get
together late at night and they would sing Mah Nishtanah." The poignant
commentaries are often long and detailed, fulfilling the commandment of
prolonging the telling of the Exodus. There are no transliterations here and
little diversion for children. Still, some of the stories can supplement other
primary haggadot. Calebach's followers will be delighted to celebrate Passover
with the words of their late Rebbe.
A PASSOVER HAGGADAH
By Elie Wiesel.
Illustrated by Mark Podwal.
144 pages. Simon & Schuster. $30.
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel graces the miraculous tale of the
haggadah with his inspired, poetic interpretations, reminiscences, and
instructive retellings of ancient legends that interweave past and present. The
text is further enhanced by over forty of Mark Podwal's ingenious and inventive
drawings, filled with fresh juxtapositions of understanding and revelation.
THE SURVIVORS HAGGADAH
By Yosef Dov Sheinson.
Edited by Saul Touster.
158 pages. Jewish Publication Society. $50.
This haggadah is a stunning testament to miracles. Written
in 1945 by Yosef Dov Sheinson, a survivor of Dachau, it was intended to
supplement the original Exodus story. Today it stands as a living history,
eerily intertwining the story of Passover with that of the Holocaust in prose
that is as stark as the black and white woodcuts interspersed throughout the
THE ILLUMINATED HAGGADAH
Featuring the Medieval Illuminations from the Haggadah Collection of the
Edited by Michael Shire.
64 pages. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. $17.
This haggadah features remarkable illustrations amplifying
the themes of the Exodus from the medieval texts collected in the British
library. As the subtitle implies, with its one hundred plus illustrations, this
is also a tribute to the art of illumination. The notable illuminations include
vines running down the margins of the page, elaborate renditions of Hebrew
letters and iconic depictions of biblical scenes. This is a visual feast that
celebrates the glory and the majesty of Passover.
THE AMERICAN HERITAGE HAGGADAH
Compiled by David Geffen.
Designed by Stuart E. Eizenstat.
120 pages. Gefen Books. $30.
This unique haggadah combines traditional Judaism with the
kitsch of Americana. The Hebrew text and English translation (no
transliterations here) are accompanied by fun facts from the history of the
American Jewish Passover. Geffen reproduces ads for Passover products and
haggadot offered by banks and other commercial concerns. (And you thought
Maxwell House was the only one!) There are color photographs of American seder
plates, a 1921 advertisement from State Bank offering a Passover savings plan
that "frees you from financial bondage," and a copy of a dispensation
issued in 1933 by Governor Eugene Talmadge of Georgia allowing for a Jewish
prisoner to receive matzah.
THE SANTA CRUZ HAGGADAH
By Karen Roekard.
80 pages.The Hineni Consciousness Press. $6.
The nonconformist artwork--the cover pictures a figure that
looks like a cross between Moses and gnome making the victory sign with an
expression of utter tranquility--presages the engaging and unabashedly
"new-age" text. The haggadah is based on the concept of not only
looking back to when we were slaves in Egypt, but to also connecting with other
groups who are enslaved or endangered such as the homeless, those discriminated
against because of their age, sex, sexual preferences. The text also points out
how people compromise their freedom by not taking risks, repeating futile words
and failing to ask questions.
THE RISHON TRANSLITERATED HAGGADAH
Edited by M. Borisute.
114 pages. Rishon Publications. $9.
This user-friendly haggadah will appeal to those with little
or no knowledge of Hebrew. All prayers and songs appear in Hebrew and English,
with transliteration. The Passover story is presented straightforwardly,
although references to God are mostly masculine. Other haggadot should be
consulted for activities to entertain younger children or discussion ideas that
stimulate further debate.
HAGGADAH FOR THE LIBERATED LAMB
Edited by Roberta Kalechofsky.
Micah Publications. $15.
Compiled from two earlier versions, The Journey of the
Liberated Lamb and The Haggadah for the Vegetarian Family, this haggadah offers
a collection of readings and ideas related to developing and articulating a
respect for all living beings. There is a lot of material to digest here; the
telling becomes extremely long, and the many readings--most in poetic form and
varying in quality and interest--are presented in Hebrew and English.
THE SAN DIEGO WOMEN'S HAGGADAH
Womans Institute of Contemporary Jewish
Published in 1980, this is the grandmother of the feminist
haggadah. The editors suggest that the seventh night of Passover is the time
"when we could rest and recline as free women." The women who
developed this seder have created specific rituals for their group:
embroidering a pillow with that year's leader's name on it, reading entries
from an annual writing contest, and giving away a tuition-free class as an
afikomen prize. The Four Questions are directed at four foremothers: the judge
and prophet Deborah ("Mother, why is this night different from all other
nights?") to B'ruria, a scholar from talmudic times; to Hannah Senesh, a
martyr to Zionism during the Holocaust; and to Gluckel of Hamlen, a medieval
mother and businesswoman whose memoirs tell of her strength and character.
DANCING WITH MIRIAM HAGGADAH
A Jewish Women's Celebration of Passover
Edited by Elaine Moise and Rebecca Schwartz.
36 pages. Rikudei Miriam.
The editors note that this haggadah is meant to supplement
more traditional haggadot. They advise their readers to use "the framework
of Passover and the liberation from Egypt as a metaphor through which to view
the journeys and struggles of Jewish women." The voices of Sarah, Leah and
Rachel mingle with those of Anne Frank, Emma Goldman and Queen Esther in the
women-centered prayers and rituals that include preparing Miriam's Cup and
placing an orange on the seder plate. This haggadah is filled with singing and
dancing; it is a celebration of freedom as well as the hope that redemption is
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
The Ma'yan haggadah
Edited by Tamara R. Cohen.
128 pages. Ma'yan: The Jewish Women's Project. $12.
This haggadah was first developed for women's seders, and it
is designed to be used for both alternative evening seders for women alone as
well as a supplement to the family seder. It offers a full spectrum of
possibilities--from choosing feminist readings to add to another seder, to
using this as the sole haggadah for a family seder; the entire traditional
seder is included in the Hebrew. To that end, on almost every page there is
something added to the basic seder. For example, there might be a beautiful
commentary explaining a Hebrew word, a section of the seder, or the editors'
choices. "To answer why this night is different we begin the first telling
of the story of slavery and redemption. Here the traditional text alternates
with the imagined voices of Shifra and Puah, the Hebrew midwives whose heroism
opens the Exodus story." Innovative rituals are also collected in this
volume, presented with interesting photographs and artwork, and plenty of
The Women's Haggadah
By E.M. Broner and Naomi Nimrod.
224 pages. Harper Collins.
This haggadah originated at a feminist seder and was
popularized by Ms. magazine. "In small enclaves," the author writes,
"women began meeting at holiday time [in the 1970s] and inserting
themselves into text or composing new text." What emerged is this thin
volume that contains a lot of good poetry (in modern Hebrew and English) and
that celebrates women's roles in the Exodus from Egypt. But as a manual to
conduct the seder, this does not serve as a haggadah. It follows neither the
plan of the haggadah nor its text. It is perhaps best to use The Women's
haggadah in conjunction with another more primary manual. However, bear in mind
that its rich source of additional readings makes the seder an uplifting
occasion for the women present.