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Finding The Perfect Haggadah
Takes You On A Journey

Finding the perfect Haggadah for your Passover Seder is a very personal thing, much like your favorite brisket recipe. With thousands of Haggodot (plural for Haggadah) to choose from, it’s possible to try a new one every year. Depending on how many Haggadot you will need, the ages or generations sitting at your table, and your preference of traditional or nontraditional, you want to keep your hungry guests engaged and not too antsy during this long ritual meal that can last way past bedtime.

Pronounced huh-GAH-duh, or hah-gah-DAH, this Hebrew world literally means “telling” or “recounting.” A Haggadah is a book that is used to tell the story of the Exodus and guides us through the ritual-rich Seder meal, indicating when and how each rite is performed. Over the years, I have collected many variations of the Haggadah. The oldest book has a dark green and gold cover and a raggedy binder held together with clear tape. The date 1931 is printed on the first page, which has turned brown and wrinkled with age. I’m not sure where this Haggadah came from, probably my grandparents or great grandparents, but I will always cherish it even though we don’t use it at the Seder. Then I have several versions of the Maxwell House Haggadah, which has been modernized over the years with updated, more inclusive language, such as “thy” and” thine” are referred to as “you” and “your.”

It is said that the Haggadah is the most commonly printed Jewish book. Each Haggadah offers its own commentary, illustrations and translations, while the prayers and the order of the content is always the same.

Modern Haggadot are much more individualized and particular to an increasingly targeted audience, whether the theme is social activism, LGBTQ, or even chocolate(fair trade in third world countries). Back in the 17th or 19th century, things were much more traditional and standard, whereas today these books connect with a newer generation.

 

SOCIAL ACTION HAGGADAH

If social action is your passion, the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) offers a way to spark meaningful conversation about our shared story of liberation with people fighting for freedom around the world today. Each year at our Seder table, we retell the story of how Jews were slaves in Egypt and now we are free. This story still resonates today with the struggles and journeys to freedom still traveled by millions of people around the world who are still enslaved by poverty, violence, discrimination and many other afflictions. They are women, girls and LGBTQ, people fighting for rights and equality; indigenous people protecting their land and struggling to survive the ravages of climate change; activists speaking out against injustice; and so many more. This Haggadah, along with supplemental readings, place cards and additional studies, challenges ourselves to take a more active and more meaningful role in hastening their freedom.

Get yours here:

https://ajws-americanjewishwo.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/placecards-for-web_spring2019.pdf

 

MAKE YOUR OWN HAGGADAH

If you would like to lead a meaningful Seder that is relevant to the guests gathered around your table, why not try a DIY Haggadah? In addition to local temples that offer make-your-own Haggadah workshops, you can go online an create a prototype for a unique Haggadah to fit the needs of any type of gathering that is appropriate for first-time hosts as well as veterans.

Get yours here:

https://www.haggadot.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw1pblBRDSARIsACfUG10Ky18ZSXLWxWRBfAHj-xR_VyvxkEfECUSNb9_AGGWdnqTwDGLXTMkaAoiSEALw_wcB

 

30MINUTE SEDER HAGGADAH

Author Robert Kopman, who has a long history of Jewish community involvement and studied Jewish law and history in Jerusalem, is considered an expert on Passover Seder traditions. His family-friendly Haggadah has been one of our favorites in recent years because well, a half hour is better than nothing and still aptly covers the highlights of the Seder.  The 30-minute Seder, described as “a blend of brevity with tradition,” is the most popular reform/conservative Haggadah on the market today selling more than 350,000 copies and the #1 bestselling book in its class on Amazon.  This rabbinically approved book is refreshingly brief, fun and yet reverent, written in modern gender-neutral English with Hebrew prayers and transliteration. Plus, there’s beautiful color illustrations and is available in large print and braille format. Participants are guaranteed to get through the book in 30 minutes, perfet for the second night after a seder hangover.

Get yours here:

https://30minuteseder.com

 

60MINUTE SEDER HAGGADAH

Whereas the 30minute Seder was written for families that want the high points in a brief, yet spiritual format with a minimum of Hebrew, the thought-provoking 60minute edition called “Passover” has all that plus a compelling account of the 10 plagues and just enough Hebrew to satisfy the more observant family members. The 60minute Seder also includes all 15 parts, plus after dinner prayers, clear instructions so anyone can lead the Seder, popular Seder songs, and even survival tips like serve the gefilte fish and matzo ball soup before the Seder begins to avoid meltdowns of hunger. The 60Minute Seder would be perfect for the first night, and the 30Minute Seder an appropriate guide for the second night.

Get yours here:

https://www.amazon.com/60-Minute-Seder-Complete-Passover/dp/0979125677

 

FOR THIS WE LEFT EGYPT HAGGADAH

Three Jewish humorists penned this Haggadah paradoy, as evident by the title. One of the authors Alan Zweibel spoke the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival last year, so I had to buy his book and it did not disappoint. Click HERE to read my review.  The book contains countless stories, dozens of blessings, and “far too many handwashing while the meal turns cold.”

This book comes from the comedic minds of Dave Barry (Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and bestselling author) , Alan Zweibel ( producer and writer for Saturday Night Live) , and Adam Mansbach (award-winning novelist and screenwriter). In “For This We Left Egypt?”, the authors take participants through every step of the Seder, from getting rid of all the chametz in your home by setting it on fire with a kosher blowtorch to a retelling of the Passover story starring Pharaoh Schmuck and a burning bush that sounds kind of like Morgan Freeman, set against the backdrop of the Promised Land. But seriously, you have to have a sense of humor to use this book that pokes fun at some of our most cherished Jewish traditions.

Get yours here:

https://www.amazon.com/This-We-Left-Egypt-Passover/dp/1250110211

 

MAXWELL HOUSE HAGGADAH

You didn’t think I’d include a Haggadah list without the original Maxwell House version, a staple of countless Jewish homes on Passover for 80 years. Even former President Obama used this Haggadah in the White House Seder when he was in office. Maxwell House stays relevant by getting a modern makeover. In the new 58-page Haggadah, for example, Four Sons are referred to as Four Children, while still offering the standard Ashkenazic text. The Maxell House Haggadah reflects the changes that many publishers and all denominations of Judaism have instituted in recent years in translations of the Torah, the siddur and other texts.

Get yours here:

http://maxwellhousehaggadah.com

 

THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL HAGGADAH

Maxwell House got the ulimate makeover this year, thanks to hit series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Amazon Prime. Since I collect Haggadot like Midge shops for pocket books and matching pumps, I had to get this book and see what it’s all about. Here’s a case where you can certainly judge a book by it’s cover. This Maisel-themed Haggadah, which has the Maxwell House kosher certified stamp of approval,  features a pink cover, recipe card for her brisket, playful illustrations of the characters (without the kids at the seder table; her kids are never around), and a splattering of wine glass stains on the pages.

This Haggadah is free, as long as you purchase Maxwell House coffee on Amazon, so I guess it’s not free but worth trying. Good thing I like coffee.

Get yours here:

https://www.amazon.com/adlp/maxwellmaiselhaggadah

 

STAND WITH US HAGGADAH

This Haggadah builds on the Exodus, teaching about how Jews overcame the odds. The 124-page, second edition StandWithUs Haggadah contains original illustrations, songs, traditional Hebrew and English prayers and text, with eye-opening facts and quotes throughout. This Haggadah enriches the Passover experience for guests of all ages by connecting the journey of our ancestors in Egypt to the modern state of Israel.

Some excerpts from the book that encourage discussion include: “In every generation our enemies rise up to destroyus. Our homeland was conquered by a series of aggressive foreign empires. While some of our people stayed in the land, most scattered across Europe and the Middle East. Although we flourished at times, for 1,900 years we lived as an oppressed minority, suffering persecution, expulsion, and ultimately genocide.”

“We have no oil, no water, but look at what Israel has accomplished. If this would have happened at the time of the Bible, it would have been included as one of the great miracles.”

“Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people who sought to restore their freedom and independence in their ancestral homeland. Theodor Herzl founded the modern Zionist movement in 1897, but the dream of restoration and return had always been at the core of Judaism and Jewish identity.”

Get yours here:

https://swubook.com/f-s-haggadah1

 

KVELLER HAGGADAH

I downloaded and printed the PDF format at Kinko’s but then I realized I can buy the pocket-sized book much cheaper on Amazon. Either way, “The Kveller Haggadah” is a keeper, catering to curious kids and their grownups. The colorful illustrations and rich text take participants on an adventure as it leads us page by page on our epic journey from slavery to freedom by asking thought-provoking questions relatable to all ages.  The book promotes curiosity by asking lots of questions, even when there are no easy answers, and asks us years from now what will you remember about this very night? And that’s what it’s all about, creating memories of this favorite Jewish holiday through interactive dialogue. This Haggadah is kid-friendly but also offers something new for us adults to learn. Woven through the Exodus story is an exploration of memory as clearly illustrated and explained in the foods on the Seder plate, which never gets old. The “Kveller Haggadah” is a guide to a meaningful, inspiring, fun Seder that will engage guests of all ages.

Get yours here:

https://www.amazon.com/Kveller-Haggadah-Seder-Curious-Grownups/dp/1090974833/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=myjewishlearn-20&linkId=2cbfb59407e9afa561aaab1cc7cf0811

The Haggadah caters to the curious child in all of us and the various attitudes of the people who gather at this yearly get-together. Passover is more than matzo and Manishevitz, it’s connecting with each other and the 4 children we represent.

The “wise child” receives wisdom by asking a very detailed question.

The “wicked child” does not so much ask a question as make a statement. This child says, in effect: “What do you care about all this?” It’s clear that he or she wants to ridicule us for keeping all the detailed laws of Passover, and is not really looking for an answer. And that is the reason why we don’t actually give an answer, but, instead, reaffirm to the rest of the family why we keep Passover each year.

The “simple child” asks aquestion that seems similar to the “wise child’s,” yet the tone is different. The simple child, who is taught the ABC’s of Judaism, is asking out of genuine interest and wants to understand more about the meaning behind the symbols. If he or she continues to inquire and learn about why we keep our traditions, this child will one day acquire wisdom.

The “child who doesn’t know how to ask” is engaged in dialogue that will provoke curiosity and conversation. This child doesn’t even know enough to ask a question and must be encouraged to ask by his parents in a gentle manner.

Today, a fifth child is added, one who is backpacking in Europe or out at the movies on Seder night, not even aware that Passover is on the calendar. For the rest of us, just by being at the table, we are connected to the Jewish people and heritage. It’s our job to lead by example and show how we experience joy in the seder to spark enough curiosity or interest so that the child (or adult) asks what’s this all about so we can open the door like we do Elijah.

And that’s what the Haggadah is all about, helping us connect with each other and open the door to a lifetime of learning.

Chag Pesach Sameach!

For more engaging questions to ask at the Passover Seder, go HERE.

Whether you buy a brand new Haggadah, download and print one from your computer, or even make your own, here’s a helpful article to get started on How Is This Haggadah Different?

Print a Haggadah here.

And more ideas here.