Jew­ish Text

The Essen­tial Seder: A Con­tem­po­rary Haggadah

  • Review
By – March 30, 2020

The Hag­gadah is com­piled by Deb­o­rah Gross-Zuch­man, a painter whose col­or­ful illus­tra­tions enliv­en the text; Gross-Zuchman’s Hag­gadah is framed as a short and mean­ing­ful seder, with fresh lan­guage and a con­tem­po­rary sen­si­bil­i­ty that empha­sizes social jus­tice. It fol­lows the order of the seder and the bless­ings and oth­er famil­iar sec­tions are in Hebrew with Eng­lish translit­er­a­tion, the body of the text is in Eng­lish. Dis­cus­sion, prompt­ed by ques­tions about free­dom and jus­tice, is the din­ner table con­ver­sa­tion. For those brought up on the tra­di­tion­al text, the updat­ed lan­guage may be a a fruit­ful change, or a bit dis­ori­ent­ing. The Four Chil­dren, for exam­ple, are cast as dif­fer­ent aspects of our inner selves; the Magid is a notable depar­ture, cen­tered on Moses, who does not appear in the tra­di­tion­al telling.

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