Passover’s coming: Got your Haggadah handy?

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Back in the 16th century, it wasn’t so hard to choose a text for your Passover seder: there were only 25 editions in print, and you’d be lucky to come by any one of them. But today an Amazon search yields more than 2,800 results for Haggadah, or “telling” of Jewish liberation from slavery described in Exodus. Do you go with the standby bestseller, Joy Levitt’s A Night of Questions, or is Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah more realistic, given modern attention spans?

But wait: There are many more Haggadot beyond Amazon.com. For Web 2.0 types, there’s the user-friendly Internet Haggadah; for mixed company, there’s the gender-neutral Santa Cruz Haggadah; and for anyone who escapes easy definition there’s the “Eco-Jew, Buddha-Jew, Renewal, Jewitch” Peeling a Pomegranate Haggadah. JewishFamily.com suggests for all you DIYers making your own brisket and matzoh covers, why not make your very own haggadah using desktop publishing tools? Sounds like a job for Blurb.

For historic inspiration in making your own Haggadah, check out Yale University’s collection of medieval illuminated Haggadot, and the most famous and precious of all: the Sarajevo Haggadah. This legendary 14th century Spanish illustrated Haggadah has its own miraculous story of survival to tell: It was saved from the Inquisition in 1492 and transported via Italy and Croatia to Sarajevo, hidden from the Nazis by the Sarajevo National Museum’s Bosnian Muslim and Croation curators, and once again rescued during the 1990s siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian museum staff, who hid it under the floorboards of a mosque when the museum came under fire. The Haggadah is now on display in the rebuilt Sarajevo Museum, in special room dedicated to religious tolerance alongside Muslim and Christian artifacts.

So what’s the point of retelling the same story every year, in thousands of Haggadot? To quote The Liberated Haggadah:

We tell the story because it is the first ever in recorded history to celebrate the idea that slaves could become free people. We tell the story because it has inspired us in our darkest moments to hope for freedom renewed.

We tell the story because it teaches us to have compassion for all those who are still not free – because “we, too, once were slaves in Egypt.”

What are your reasons for telling the story in your own Haggadah? Do tell.

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I think I’ve written about Blurb for my day job before and I’ve definitely looked at publishing my haggadah through blurb.

      March 26, 2007 – 10:52 am   Permalink
  2. Hi Carly – Great to hear from you. Let us know if you decide to do a Haggadah through us. We always like to hear the new directions people are taking Blurb.

    By Kathy
      March 26, 2007 – 12:26 pm   Permalink
  3. I’ve just downloaded the blurb software again and am thinking about a couple of ideas!

    Thanks for reminding me about blurb.

      April 4, 2007 – 10:58 am   Permalink

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