Jew­ish Text

The Sto­ry­book Haggadah

Sey­mour Rossel; Janet Zweb­n­er, illus.
  • Review
By – March 26, 2012
With sparkling­ly clear sto­ries, read­able font, and child-friend­ly mes­sages, Rab­bi Rossel offers a fes­tive Passover Hag­gadah for fam­i­lies. Text is sim­pli­fied, but not over-sim­pli­fied, and fol­lows tra­di­tion­al order in Hebrew and Eng­lish, from basic bless­ings to table songs. What stands out is what Rossel adds for under­stand­ing. Dif­fi­cult pas­sages are bro­ken down into phras­es and explained. He inter­spers­es fif­teen sto­ries that smooth­ly link Bib­li­cal char­ac­ters and Exo­dus events with Jew­ish val­ues and mod­ern her­itage. Abraham’s trust in one God as cre­ator paves the way for the Chil­dren of Israel to cry out to heav­en when they were slaves. One sto­ry con­nects the roast­ed bone on the Seder plate to mezuzahs on the door­post, as sym­bols of God’s pro­tec­tion. Some of the sto­ries are tra­di­tion­al. Some, like the sea pulling rank and refus­ing at first to part for Moses, or God send­ing an angel to ask Miri­am to stop danc­ing while Egyp­tians are drown­ing, are new­er. About the Israelites’ need to leave before dough could rise, Rossel advis­es: When free­dom calls, you must answer with­out delay.” Occa­sion­al­ly pic­tures fol­low a page or two behind a sto­ry, but on the whole, the Hagad­dah was laid out with care. Bright illus­tra­tions on shiny stock, some spot and some full-page, engage the eye with action. Text bor­ders are dec­o­rat­ed with sym­bols. For ages 7 – 10.

Sharon Elswit, author of The Jew­ish Sto­ry Find­er and a school librar­i­an for forty years in NYC, now resides in San Fran­cis­co, where she shares tales aloud in a local JCC preschool and vol­un­teers with 826 Valen­cia to help stu­dents write their own sto­ries and poems.

Discussion Questions