Jew­ish Text

Shar­ing the Jour­ney: The Hag­gadah for the Con­tem­po­rary Family

Alan S. Yoffie; Mark Pod­w­al, illus.
  • Review
By – February 6, 2013

In cre­at­ing this new hag­gadah, Alan S. Yoffie rec­og­nizes and responds to the contempo­rary Reform Jew­ish fam­i­ly that may include mem­bers from many dif­fer­ent back­grounds and reli­gious — even non­re­li­gious — tra­di­tions. Clear­ly writ­ten and hand­some­ly illus­trat­ed by the not­ed artist Mark Pod­w­al, the hag­gadah meets all the par­tic­i­pants in the seder on their own ground. Gen­der neu­tral, with God addressed in the sec­ond per­son and some cre­ative trans­la­tions of the Hebrew, Shar­ing the Jour­ney stress­es the uni­ver­sal­i­ty of the seder.

Although Shar­ing the Jour­ney speaks to a broad com­mu­ni­ty, it fol­lows the tra­di­tion­al order of the seder although some parts have been short­ened or omit­ted. This allows for expand­ed explana­to­ry sec­tions and supple­mentary mate­r­i­al. For exam­ple, the light­ing of the fes­ti­val can­dles includes the Shab­bat bless­ings for sons and daugh­ters as well as the priest­ly bene­dic­tion; both Dr. Mar­tin Luther King and Rab­bi Abra­ham Joshua Hes­chel are quot­ed in the break­ing of the mat­zo; and a sec­tion on the Holo­caust has a recita­tion of con­cen­tra­tion camps and ghet­tos where Jews per­ished dur­ing World War II. In addi­tion, at var­i­ous points box­es indi­cate oppor­tu­ni­ties and top­ics for discussion.

The Appen­dix has longer ver­sions of some of the abbre­vi­at­ed sec­tions and addi­tion­al songs, both tra­di­tion­al and con­tem­po­rary, allow­ing the leader to insert them into the text for more tra­di­tion­al seders and to add songs. Hebrew is translit­er­at­ed as well as trans­lat­ed through­out the text. 

Yoffie, an attor­ney, has played an active role in his Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. He worked with Dr. Paula Brody, direc­tor of the Out­reach Train­ing Insti­tute of the Boston URJ Out­reach, Rab­bi Matthew Berg­er of Tem­ple Emanuel in Worces­ter, Mass­a­chu­setts, and many oth­er advis­ers. A Leader’s Guide to the hag­gadah and a CD of the music are avail­able; an icon in the text indi­cates that music for the bless­ing or song is on the CD. Shar­ing the Jour­ney is a thought­ful hag­gadah that will lead diverse and con­tem­po­rary par­tic­i­pants to a mean­ing­ful seder and pro­vide the basis for fuller celebra­tion and dis­cus­sion. Appen­dix, bib­li­og­ra­phy, end­notes, illustrations.

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions