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Pesach - Finding A Haggadah

Pesach is one of the most celebrated holidays on the Jewish calendar. The holiday involves the Seder, a meal in which eating and discussing topics related to Passover is done in a designated order, guided by the Passover Haggadah. A Passover Haggadah is a book outlining the order of the Seder. It includes the story of Passover of the Hebrew slaves escaping Egypt, texts for discussion, traditional prayers, and songs and rituals. Explanations about representative and symbolic foods included in the Seder are also found in the Passover Haggadah.

Today, there are literally hundreds of Haggadot (the Hebrew plural for Haggadah) available on the market so we thought you might appreciate a few recommendations:

 Digital copy of our Haggadah 1


An All-Purpose Haggadah: Rabbi Steven Z. Leder

Festival of Freedom, By Rabbi Harvey J. Fields, Ph.D.

If I had to choose one, all purpose Haggadah for all sorts of Seders, all sorts of ages and all sorts of Jews both knowledgeable and not, I would choose Festival of Freedom, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Haggadah edited by Rabbi Fields and published by the Temple in 1988. It is the most user-friendly Haggadah I know of that does not dummy down the material. The illustrations are wonderful copies of block prints collected from different Haggadot over the past 600 years. While not all of the Hebrew is transliterated, certainly the most important participatory parts of the Seder are, along with the words for all of the standard Pesach songs. In addition, Rabbi Fields did a wonderful job of adding commentary and questions for discussion opposite every page of traditional text. We have been using this Haggadah at our Seders for nearly 20 years and simply have not found a better one for a gathering that includes young and old, learned and unschooled, patient and impatient Jews…. Enjoy!

Rabbi Steven Z. Leder is the Pritzker Chair of Senior Rabbinics.


Child-Friendly Haggadah: From our Early Childhood Centers

My Very Own Haggadah, By Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler: This book is a classic, and it has withstood the test of time. The language is age-appropriate, and the illustrations have been updated. A Winner!

Sammy Spider's First Passover by Sylvia Rouss: Sammy Spider is a much loved character who celebrates all of the Jewish holidays with the Shapiro family. In this book, he celebrates Passover for the first time!

These recommendations came from Carol Bovill, Fredda Loewenstein, and Leslie Cerruti at our Early Childhood Centers.


My Favorite Haggadah: Vinny Green

A Children’s Haggadah, By Howard I. Bogot and Robert J. Orkand

I particularly like this Haggadah because even though it is designed for children, it has so much for adults as well.

The illustrations by Devis Grebu are wonderful and add a great deal of visual texture to the telling of the story of our people’s exit from Egypt. Passover is all about asking questions and passing our information to our next generation. This Haggadah encourages us to do both.

Children love the book because whether they can read English, Hebrew, or not at all, the art work carries them to many places. Starting with the cover, the book captures one’s imagination. Is that a matzah? Yes, but isn’t there a city at the top of its jagged edge? Yes! With each page, the story literally, unfolds.

Beginning with an illustration of a chain, children immediately start visualizing how they are connected to what will follow. The first pages open, and open and open, to give background on how to prepare for our special meal. There are beautiful illustrations and descriptions of what is to come. Within every drawing, there are other drawings. All lead the viewer, the reader, the listener deeper into the maggid, the story! And the more interested we are, the more questions we ask.

As we turn the pages, we read the blessings, which are written in Hebrew, transliteration and English. This makes the haggadah very user friendly to ‘all who are hungry and come to eat’ at our table.

If things get quiet, we turn a page and there is a song that is so perfectly tied to where we need to be at that moment. Children are eager to stay involved because they know something special is going to happen on the next page. The story is told in a condensed way, but hitting all of the important factors, and especially allowing adults to share greater details, according to the ages of those present.

Everything in this Haggadah leads our children to greater discussion, deeper questions and more informed connections with our people and our stories. Our hope and responsibility at every seder is to ensure that we continue to add links to our Jewish past, by informing our next generation in the long and amazing journey of our people.

Read on and enjoy adding yourself as our strongest Jewish link at Seder’s end!

Vinny Green is a former Religious School K-6 Administrator at the Temple.



A Different Night: The Family Participation Haggadah, Edited by Noam Zion and David Dishon

This Haggadah provides many options for a family friendly, multiple generation Seder. It outlines a "Bare Bones Basic Seder" which hits all the key prayers and songs and still leaves time for a game or drama performance. Cartoon illustrations enhance the text as do various graphic interpretations of the Seder. For example, the text encourages the participant to examine graphic images of the four children and interpret them. Additionally "Chronicles" the newpaper of the Exodus reports on the Israelites leaving in the dead of night-- did you see the headline? Contemporary interpretations of traditional words fall into categories such as assimilation vs identity, antisemitism and prejudice, resignation to resistance. Simple instructions are given to the seder leaders at each section of the Seder however, the leader does need to prepare in advance: Where will a selection of songs infuse the service with energy, where will we need a provocative discussion? Adults looking for texts to stimulate intellectual engagement with Passover will find this engaging as well. Zion and Dishon have selected from their Haggadah, A Different Night: the Full Edition to make this family friendly, shorter, tighter version of the Seder experience. I recommend that the leader take a look at the Full Edition for a selection of additional poetry, song and story.

If you want to take the Seder off the page and into real life, I recommend this Haggadah to adults and families with children, 8 and up.

Rabbi Karen L. Fox is Rabbi Emeritá of Wilshire Boulevard Temple.


Other Haggadah Options

Family Haggadah – A Seder For All Generations, Ellie M. Gindi, Berhman House, 1998.
A Family Haggadah – In Every Generation, Shoshana Silberman, Kar-Ben Copies, 1987.
The Open Door, Sue Levi Elwell, CCAR Press, 2002.
On Wings of Freedom, Richard N. Levy, B’nai Brith Hillel Foundations and Ktav Publishing House, 1989.
A Children’s Haggadah, Howard Bogot and Robert Orkand, CCAR Press, 1994.
Passover Haggadah—The Feast of Freedom, The Rabbinical Assembly, 1982.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

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