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Why is this Haggadah Different from All Others?

These days, there’s a Haggadah for everyone. Here are some to consider.
[additional-authors]
March 30, 2023
Frog Haggadah Photo by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Passover is a special time of year. Families and friends gather to retell the story of Exodus in a seder that can last anywhere for a few minutes to several hours. These days, there’s a Haggadah for everyone. Here are some to consider.

Traditional

Looking for a traditional Haggadah? Try “A Different Night, The Family Participation Haggadah.” Originally published by the Shalom Hartman Institute in 1997, this Haggadah by David Dishon and Noam Zion is a user-friendly, traditional seder with art, commentaries and conversation starters. The new edition has 32 additional pages of Passover stories.

Another option is “The Jonathan Sacks Haggada,” written by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the late former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom. This Haggadah, which was updated in 2022, offers a refreshing and insightful commentary to the “Koren Haggada,” along with illuminating essays (including “Pesach, Freud and Jewish Identity” and “Pesach and the Rebirth of Israel,”) on the themes and motifs of the Festival of Freedom.

Gathering to retell the story of Passover is what the holiday is all about.

Fun for Kids

Rabbi Ron Isaacs’ “The Family (and Frog) Haggadah” and “Seder in Motion: A Haggadah to Move Body and Soul” are family friendly and tons of fun.

“The Family (and Frog) Haggadah” has traditional text and vibrant artwork, along with the songs, prayers, fun facts, activities for the seder and a hopping frog on its pages to keep the story interactive and fun. 

“Watch Frog find a piece of toast (chametz), run away from Pharaoh’s army, mistakenly eat a locust (that he thought was a fly) and more,” Karen Rostoker-Gruber — the ventriloquist who created the book’s Frog the book voices him at events with Rabbi Ron — told the Journal. “There’s puns and frog fun on every page and that’s what makes this Haggadah family-friendly.”

“Seder in Motion” encourages participants of all ages to engage all the senses for a seder that combines the traditional text with creative activities that connect emotionally and get participants moving.

“This Haggadah is great for all ages and engages participants through mindfulness and motion,” Leora Isaacs, who co-wrote this Seder with her husband, told the Journal.

Shakespeare 

Martin Bodek’s “The Shakespeare Haggadah” is the latest in his series of contemporary versions of the instruction manual for the Passover seder ritual. He is also the author of “The Coronavirus Haggadah,” “The Emoji Haggadah” and “The Festivus Haggadah.”

This Shakespeare-quote/Haggadah-text mashup displays the full ritual text in Hebrew, and also includes the English translation in faux-Elizabethan style. Peppered with copious and relevant Shakespeare quotes — at least one quote from each play — the Haggadah also has funny stage directions for the seder leader. 

Re-enacting the story of the Exodus from Egypt is a popular activity at many seders (especially with children),” Bodek told the Journal. “So referencing the greatest playwright of the English language is a natural.

Make Your Own 

Haggadot.com enables users to make their own, customized Haggadah, using a template and/or mixing and matching elements from the website. The largest online resource for the Passover Haggadah, the website — which is a nonprofit — has thousands of options for blessings, art, translations, songs, activities and more. 

To get started, create an account. Click “new Haggadah” to start one from scratch or use one of the templates, and then add and remove clips. To save a clip to your Haggadah, browse the Clip Library and select the “Add to Haggadah” button. Since personalization is key, a user can also upload or scan in original writings and artwork for any section of the Haggadah. To create a clip of your own, log into your Haggadot.com account, then select the “Submit a Clip” link in the top navigation. 

Once you create a Haggadah, it will be added to your My Library link on the top right of the screen. At the final stage, you can create a PDF and print unlimited copies at home for seder guests, all at no charge.

Song-Filled Seder

For those seeking a song-filled Seder, go over to HebrewSongs.com. Aura Lipski’s free, printable song sheets are perfect for using at any seder, either along with your Haggadah or instead of. 

If you have guests who don’t know all the songs, or people from other faiths who are joining you, you can send them a link beforehand, so they can listen to the songs and “study.”

The words are transliterated in large font as pdfs, and the sheets are categorized; one before the meal, one for after the meal. “Our readers come from 90 countries and it always stuns me how many use them and actually play the songs at their Seders,” Lipski told the Journal.

Haggadah meet AI

“Haggad.AI: The First AI Haggadah,” edited by Royi Shamir and Yitzchak Woolf, was just published in March. Combining the power of artificial intelligence with the beauty of Jewish text and art, it includes original commentary, midrash and divrei torah created by ChatGPT, and over 30 stunning images created by Midjourney.

“We created the character of Rabb.AI, an AI Rabbi which serves as our guide for the Haggadah,” Woolf told the Journal. “Rabb.AI gives his original and unique commentary and midrashim at the bottom of the page separated from the traditional Haggadah text. Although some of Rabb.AI’s commentary is entirely unprecedented and unverifiable, they hold significance, and we recognize the AI’s good intentions.”

The authors also incorporated navigation tabs on the outer margins of the Haggadah to help readers determine their current stage in the seder.

“The chapter system is located on the left-hand side, while the wine cup iconography can be found on the upper right, indicating the appropriate times to fill and empty the cup,” Woolf said.

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