The Haggadah Dilemma

The matzahs are gone; the ongoing question remains: Has anyone found a satisfying haggadah?

For the past two years, we’ve used the slim paperback egalitarian “Family Haggadah” by Elie M. Gindi. Not great but good and plenty of room for personal input.

But the search for a better haggadah remains far more daunting than the hunt for the afikoman.

Speaking personally, the great mother-daughter generational battle for me was sparked in the 1980s with the realization that our charoset-smeared, wine-stained Union Haggadah — the Reform “Union Haggaddah Revised,” dating back to 1923 — was so sexist that even the matzah was man-made.

I less than graciously forced Aviva Cantor’s socialist-Zionist-animal rights haggadah (first published in Lilith) down the throats of my family. It was a one-time event. At the end, my father, in one of the more gracious responses to the experience, said, “This is not our style.”

And so each year I imagine the wise women of the feminist seder now in its 34th year — Esther Broner, Letty Cottin Pogrebin et al — gathered for their ever-evolving telling of the story while the rest of us page through piles of haggadot, wishing we’d gotten an earlier start on the search for haggadah satisfaction.

Any breakthroughs?

— Amy Stone

3 comments on “The Haggadah Dilemma

  1. Elly Egenberg on

    This year we gave into our heart’s yearning for familiarity, comfort and predictability and
    purchased new stain free copies of the Rabbi Nathan Goldberg Haggadah published by Ktav. My husband and I and my children all like this Haggada because even though we all had differnt religious school backgrounds, we were all trained on this haggada. It brought peace and fulfillment to our seders.

  2. Maggie Anton on

    As usual, the amount of photocopied “additional” pages nearly outnumbered our haggadah’s “official” pages. Every year at Passover, I’m determined to find a new haggadah that has everything in it that our family wants, and nothing more. And every year there’s our old Haggadah, plus more, new photocopied pages.

    Maybe someday, when I’m in between writing novels, I’ll write the “Rashi’s Daughters” Haggadah.

    Maggie Anton

  3. Cheryl Weisman-Cohen on

    Our family had the old Maxwell House/Manischevitz stained Haggadahs – even when our children were growing up we used my mom’s old copies. Finally, 2-3 years ago, I purchased (after some searching !) more than a dozen of “Family Haggadah II” by Shoshana Silberman, 1997/2005, KAR-BEN Publishing. Yes, we continue to enjoy the ‘extras’ like the Orange on the Seder Plate and its explanation and still add some old family traditions (minced hard eggs in salt water). This text is quite readable: no Thee, Thou, or Hast….! There are commentaries & activities(optional)opposite each page of the Haggadah. For our family and friends, we are so glad that we ‘invested’ some time, energy, and money to find an insightful, colorful, and modern Haggadah that fits our needs. Our 23 year old son has sung the Four Questions more vigorously, I think, the past few Seders!

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