The hunt for a helpful haggadah


Why is this one different from all the others?


The haggadah is the “instruction manual” of the Passover Seder, and depending on which one you use, it will certainly influence your celebration. In addition to describing the order of events and the narration of the Exodus story, your haggadah says a lot about you and your family. With so many unique individuals, it should come as no surprise that there are more than 3,000 haggadot in publication.

While the Passover story remains unchanged, each haggadah interprets the “telling” a little differently. For instance, there are haggadot for different denominations of Judaism and haggadot with a focus on Israel and the Zionist movement. But there are also haggadot for interfaith families, for the gay /lesbian community, for Americans and for children, to name but a few.

Here is a list of haggadot you might consider:

• “American Heritage Haggadah: The Passover Experience” by David Geffen, Ph.D. With a focus on religious diversity in America, this haggadah emphasizes the ideals of freedom and liberty. It also features Passover advertisements, commercial enterprises and haggadot offered by American companies.

• “GLBT Haggadah” by JQ International in collaboration with Hebrew Union College’s Institute for Judaism & Sexual Orientation. This downloadable haggadah was created for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to fulfill the need for an “inclusive and integrated GLBT Passover experience.” It is available at

• “Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb” by Roberta Kalechofsky. This haggadah focuses on vegetarianism and animal rights. In lieu of a shank bone, Kalechofsy suggests a plate of olives, grapes and unfermented barley based on Deut. 24:19-15.

• “In Every Generation: The JDC Haggadah” by Ari Goldman and Joseph Telushkin. From the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), this haggadah includes vivid photographs and depicts social responsibility in action.

• “The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Passover Haggadah” by Tamara Cohen. Honoring women and their role in Jewish history, this haggadah replaces the traditional “Four Sons” with “Four Daughters.”

• “Make Your Own Passover Seder: A New Approach to Creating a Personal Family Celebration” by Alan Abraham Kay. Regardless of your spiritual, political or personal beliefs, you can create a customized Seder that suits you. Easy-to-follow, this hagaddah includes tips, recipes, songs, stories and a glossary.

• “A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices” by Mishael Zion & Noam Zion and Michel Kichka. This book is described as “a full traditional haggadah with a contemporary and Israeli accent.” With lively illustrations, commentary, quotes and stories, this is perfect for all ages at the Seder table.

• “New American Haggadah” by Jonathan Safran Foer. This haggadah favors equality, includes insightful commentary and reads from right to left with no transliterations.

• “Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families” by Cokie & Steve Roberts. Especially for couples of mixed faiths, this book was written by ABC political commentator Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve after years of adapting their Seders.

• “A Passover Haggadah: As Commented Upon by Elie Wiesel and Illustrated by Mark Podwal” by Elie Wiesel and Mark Podwal. In addition to prayers and songs, Wiesel offers commentary, reminiscences and reflections on Israel’s place in the modern world. Podwal’s drawings enhance the Passover story.

• “Pop Haggadah” by Melissa Berg. Published in 2014, this book includes modern art, and all the commentary is in the illustrations. It’s easy to read, hip and eye catching with its bold graphics.

• “Pesach for the Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Own” by Marge Piercy. From her Cape Cod home, Piercy continues to tweak her Passover celebrations. This haggadah is “a contemporary interpretation, rather than an emphasis on what is strictly ‘correct’ or traditional.”

• “Rebirth of Israel Passover Haggadah” by David Harel. There is a correlation between the freedom and exodus of Passover and the establishment of the State of Israel as well as the renaissance of today’s Jews.

• “Richard Codor’s Joyous Haggadah: A Children and Family Cartoon Haggadah for Passover Seder” by Richard Codor. If you like the Marx brothers, this comic book-style haggadah is for you. It is concise and witty and intended for all ages.

• “Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah” by Sylvia A. Rouss and Katherine Janus Kahn. Designed for children ages four to eight, this loveable spider teaches youngsters about Passover and includes activities and songs.

KARA MARZIALI is the Director of Communications for the Jewish Alliance.