Jew­ish Text

The Lovell Haggadah

Matthew l. Berkowitz
  • Review
By – January 9, 2012
The Mish­nah offers only the barest sug­ges­tion of what con­sti­tutes a seder — the basic rit­u­als and instruc­tions to our son — an open invi­ta­tion to retell the sto­ry of the Exo­dus in a mean­ing­ful and cre­ative way. Over the gen­er­a­tions, how­ev­er, the text of the hagad­dah has been set, and par­tic­i­pants often over­look the oppor­tu­ni­ty to depart from that text to make their seders thought­ful and sig­nif­i­cant. 

Matthew L. Berkowitz, Senior Rab­binic Fel­low at the Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Seminary’s Voic­es of Learn­ing Pro­gram, has grasped that oppor­tu­ni­ty. Ground­ed in the tra­di­tion­al litur­gy, which is hand­some­ly pre­sent­ed in Eng­lish and Hebrew, The Lovell Hag­gadah encour­ages par­tic­i­pants to rethink many tra­di­tion­al pas­sages and to expand both their knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of the seder through inter­pre­ta­tive intro­duc­tions, com­pelling art­work, dis­cus­sion top­ics, and per­son­al con­tri­bu­tions. Rab­bi Berkowitz draws on tra­di­tion­al and con­tem­po­rary schol­ars and com­men­tary, from the Tal­mud to Isabel Allende, Arnold Eisen, and Abra­ham Joshua Hes­chel. In twen­ty-sev­en bold­ly dra­mat­ic plates com­ple­ment­ing the text, Rab­bi Berkowitz, trained in tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish art­forms, com­bines cal­lig­ra­phy, paper cuts, and oth­er tech­niques to deep­en the mean­ing of the seder and draw par­tic­i­pants into a broad­er appre­ci­a­tion of the Passover expe­ri­ence from the Exo­dus to today. 

Art has been an inte­gral part of hag­gadahs for cen­turies, and The Lovell Hag­gadah stands tall in that line of artis­ti­cal­ly rich and inspir­ing retellings.

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