Illus­tra­tion in the Kauf­mann Hag­gadah, 1300s

Night of Begin­nings: A Passover Haggadah
by Mar­cia Falk

With orig­i­nal bless­ings and read­ings, gen­der-inclu­sive trans­la­tions, and text-inspired illus­tra­tions, Mar­cia Falk’s Night of Begin­nings offers an inno­v­a­tive adap­ta­tion of the Passover Haggadah.

Her text includes a full retelling of the Exo­dus — notice­ably absent from the tra­di­tion­al Hag­gadah — which re-cen­ters the Passover sto­ry as a Bib­li­cal nar­ra­tive as opposed to rab­binic inter­pre­ta­tion. Falk also includes kavan­ot, designed to assist the read­er in ele­vat­ing Seder rit­u­als through thought­ful practice.

To ease the read­er into deep­er explo­ration, the Hag­gadah is print­ed with col­or-cod­ed pages that iden­ti­fy the genre of each text. While fol­low­ing the order of a tra­di­tion­al Seder, Falk’s Hag­gadah focus­es on the themes of con­ceal­ment, reveal­ment, and self-aware­ness, which the author sug­gests are cen­tral to self-actu­al­iza­tion and freedom.

Night of Begin­nings is intend­ed for an adult audi­ence. As we might expect from Mar­cia Falk, it is a text-cen­tered, lit­er­ary explo­ration of Jew­ish rit­u­al, made acces­si­ble in Hebrew, Eng­lish, and translit­er­a­tion. It can serve as the sole text for a Seder or as a valu­able resource for addi­tion­al read­ings. Night of Begin­nings encour­ages read­ers to break free from the tra­di­tion­al Hag­gadah text and explore retelling the Passover sto­ry in a bold new way.

The Ratio­nal Passover Haggadah
by Den­nis Prager

Rely­ing on rea­son to explain the text, The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er the impor­tance of rit­u­al, the his­tor­i­cal accu­ra­cy of Exo­dus, and time­less ques­tions about the rela­tion­ship between God and the Jew­ish peo­ple in our mod­ern world.

The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah does this by inter­spers­ing thought-pro­vok­ing arti­cles with the tra­di­tion­al Hag­gadah text; this guides read­ers in dis­cus­sions for any time of the year but is espe­cial­ly appro­pri­ate when sit­ting togeth­er to cel­e­brate Passover.

For exam­ple, fol­low­ing the recita­tion of the tra­di­tion­al four ques­tions, the author sug­gests four addi­tion­al ques­tions we might ask, includ­ing Must the Seder be a reli­gious expe­ri­ence, or is it enough for it to be a fam­i­ly and/​or nation­al Jew­ish expe­ri­ence?” While encour­ag­ing Seder par­tic­i­pants to first con­sid­er these ques­tions on their own, Prager also offers his own expla­na­tions which may spark fur­ther deliberation.

The design of the Hag­gadah — its text-cen­tered inter­pre­tive approach — and the focus on addi­tion­al arti­cles for dis­cus­sion makes The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah best suit­ed for adult audi­ences. The text is pro­vid­ed in Hebrew and Eng­lish, with­out translit­er­a­tion. Quotes from oth­er mod­ern thinkers, such as Rab­bi Jonathan Sacks and Dr. Jor­dan Peter­son, are inter­spersed to sup­port the author’s analysis.

The Ratio­nal Passover Hag­gadah is a valu­able addi­tion to the Passover Seder, allow­ing par­tic­i­pants to con­sid­er Judaism’s cen­tral themes with Prager’s clar­i­ty of thought and appre­ci­a­tion for dif­fi­cult ques­tions. It may be used inde­pen­dent­ly or as a source for sup­ple­men­tal readings.

Pic­tures Tell
by Zion Ozeri

Pic­tures Tell is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore the images of Zion Ozeri — a not­ed pho­tog­ra­ph­er of the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence — to deep­en your engage­ment with the themes of Passover.

Ozeri’s pho­tographs are thought­ful­ly placed to encour­age their use as pri­ma­ry texts and exam­ine Jew­ish prac­tice and con­tem­po­rary concerns.

Com­par­ing the inter­pre­ta­tion of pho­tographs to texts, Ozeri writes:

‘One can approach a visu­al text in much the same way. The first ques­tion we might ask is, What do I see? What is the pshat, or sim­ple read­ing?’…. Final­ly, it’s time to make con­nec­tions: How does this image con­nect to a par­tic­u­lar text in the Hag­gadah? How does it exem­pli­fy or ampli­fy an aspect of our Passover obser­vance? How does it reveal, clar­i­fy, or chal­lenge a deep­er theme of our faith?’”

QR codes attached to sev­er­al of the pho­tographs extend the con­ver­sa­tion by pro­vid­ing links to source sheets on Sefaria, one of sev­er­al part­ners in devel­op­ing this new Hag­gadah. Addi­tion­al QR codes allow you to lis­ten to Passover songs from Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties around the world. Con­tri­bu­tions by con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish thinkers, such as Pro­fes­sor Deb­o­rah E. Lip­stadt, Rab­bi Daniel Bouski­la, and Rab­ba Sara Hur­witz, will deep­en the experience .

This Hag­gadah includes the tra­di­tion­al text in Hebrew and Eng­lish. While best used by an adult audi­ence, the Haggadah’s mul­ti­me­dia approach makes it acces­si­ble to younger audi­ences as well.

Jonathan Fass is the Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion­al Tech­nol­o­gy and Strat­e­gy at The Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion Project of New York.