A Haggadah to Grow With
We at the Shalom
Hartman Institute in Jerusalem have been researching the Haggadah and
its educational principles for a decade. At last we venture beyond scholarly
essays to an experimental Haggadah which is designed to enable the contemporary
Jew to lead an interactive and intellectually stimulating seder. While
holding to the traditional text of the seder, we have discovered that
much can be done to make the seder more responsive to contemporary needs
and simultaneously truer to the spirit of the Rabbis as educators. Rabbinic
tradition mandates the kind of innovations that appear throughout this
Our Haggadah facilitates
a seder that is as an educational dialogue between parent and child, leader
and participant. A Different Night offers stories and readings as well
as commentaries and activities that can fuel a dynamic evening of storytelling
and discussion, dramatics and singing. The illustrations drawn from medieval
and modern artists serve as visual commentaries that evoke discussion.
We have assembled many artistic portrayals of the Four Children to encourage
comparison and debate.
True to the spirit
of the Haggadah we have sought to be eclectic, building on the creative
artistry and intellectual insight of others : Maimonides, Ben Gurion and
I.B. Singer, Ben Shahn and Marc Chagall, gifted childrens writers,
cartoonists and philosophers.
Everyone - whether
adult or child - can feel at home in this inclusive, pluralistic Haggadah.
Transliterations and contemporary translations make the traditional Hebrew
accessible to all.
With this Haggadah
the seder may be customized to match each familys needs and religious
commitments. One can choose a short seder (an hour) or a long seder following
various trails through the wealth of options provided. Every year you
can focus on different aspects of the seder - preserving what you love
and experimenting with new ideas. (The Leader's Guide, a separate companion
volume, provides practical advice as well as background essays for preparing
the Passover evening most appropriate for you).
This is a Haggadah
to grow with from Pesach to Pesach; a resource to enable each seder to
be different than its predecessor. With A Different Night your seder will
maximize the active participation of everyone.
On this night all
of us must feel that we experienced the Exodus and that the holiday of
freedom belongs to us personally.
-- Noam Sachs Zion and David Dishon
P.S. Please share with us your responses to this Haggadah.The Shalom
Hartman Institute, headed by Rabbi David Hartman, noted international
philosopher and scholar, is an educational, learning and research center
serving all sectors of the Jewish world that wish to enrich their dialogue
with Jewish texts, and have it impact on their lives. SHI is non-demoninational,
and includes men and women from all varieties of Jewish faith and practice.
Knows One - A Friendly Warning
Do not try to do it all in one night. This Haggadah
offers resources for many years of Pesach seders. Pick and choose the
readings and activities that are most appropriate for the seder at hand.
(See the users guide on the following pages).
Users Guide to A Different Night
Only the lesson which is enjoyed can be learned well
A Rich Menu -- Dont Overeat!
How can you enjoy the resources of A Different Night without
This special Haggadah
contains a rich menu of stories, songs, activities, explanations
and topics for discussion which supplement the traditional seder. These
add spice and variety. As in any menu we are not expected to order everything
but to select what we feel is appropriate for this particular evening.
While following the basic traditional order, there is room for a few additions
and a few substitutions chosen to fit the tastes and talents of the participants.
overeat or over-plan for the seder. You can always return
to the menu and order something else the next night or the next year.
Regard A Different Night as a collection of options, not
as a required course adding more obstacles on the path through the Haggadah
before reaching the food.
Pick a few things
and see how they develop!
How can we add more activities to the seder when people already complain
that it is too long?
A major obstacle
to making the seder more creative and more educational is the rumbling
stomachs that murmur: When do we eat already? Sitting
at a beautifully set table naturally evokes a Pavlovian response as our
mouths start to water.
is our solution. To prevent hunger from undermining your best efforts
to create a different night, you may offer extensive hors
doeuvres. Along with the karpas - the traditional dipping
of parsley, celery or potato in salt water - serve more substantive appetizers.
This was the original Rabbinic custom. The stomach which gets its due
early in the seder liberates the mind to engage in the main course of
the seder: telling the story and discussing freedom and slavery. (A light
meal - with no matza! - in the late afternoon before seder night is also
Short Cuts Through The Haggadah
How can we plan a reasonably short but lively seder?
Many of us have only
one hour or so to devote to the Haggadah before the meal begins. Yet
the traditional text is so long and the supplementary materials, though
fascinating, make it longer. Speed-reading through the Haggadah misses
the whole point of the seder as a family learning experience with dialogue,
dramatics and discussion.
Our proposed solution
is designed for families who generally skip sections of the traditional
text anyway. It will help them to balance skipping and supplementing
within a very limited time frame. We call it the Bare Bones Basic
Seder. It identifies the basic essentials of the Haggadah (minimal
readings, songs and rituals) that can be completed in approximately half
an hour. This leaves plenty of time to add a few enriching activities
and readings that make this seder special, before beginning the main meal.
It is easy to locate
the B.B.B. sections by following the
in the body of the Haggadah. You will find an item by item summary of
the B.B.B. Seder on page 8.
Note: The Bare
Bones Basics do not correspond precisely to formal halachic requirements
(traditional Jewish law). They are aids to locate the most popular and
the most meaningful elements of the traditional seder. (For those concerned
with the minimal halachic standards, consult your rabbi).
Format of the Page
On the RIGHT HAND PAGE you find the main-line of the traditional seder
(directions, Hebrew, English and transliterations for pieces which are
often sung or recited together). Please treat the Directions
as helpful guidelines, not as obligations that must be done at all costs.
A Mini-Table of
Contents is located on the side with some of the previous activities
in pale color and the present activity named in dark color.
On the LEFT HAND
PAGE you will find explanations, stories, readings and personal meditations.
Activities to be performed (not merely read) by the participants
are specially marked in shaded colored areas. In addition, The Leaders
Guide (which is a separate companion volume) provides many more activities
and stories for future years including special suggestions for younger
not only artistic variety for child and adult, but a form of running commentary
to be read and discussed like the written texts. In particular,
see the ten-page art section (pages 62-71) with twenty artistic renditions
of the Four Children that invite comparison and debate. The editors of
this Haggadah do not endorse any one of these artistic interpretations,
but we do encourage a lively discussion about them. A commentary on each
picture of the Four Children is provided at the end of the Haggadah (page
174).At first glance the traditional Haggadah may seem like a hodge-podge
of texts and activities. That first impression is not surprising for the
Haggadah is an eclectic anthology constructed by many hands over two thousand
years. Therefore, we have highlighted the underlying structure of the
Haggadah built around the four cups. Each of the four major sections is
keyed in the corner of the page by a graphic representation of a cup.
Overall Structure of the Seder
The evening opens with the sanctification of the holiday by an initial
invocation and with appetizers (dips).
Questions and storytelling in multiple versions fill this longest part
of the seder. After telling the story of Exodus and explaining the symbolic
foods that trigger memories of Egypt, we sing a song of praise to God
Cup: Shulchan Orech
The meal begins with matza and maror and concludes with the blessing after
eating called Birkat HaMazon.
After dinner an extra cup is poured in honor of Elijah and the door is
opened to welcome the messianic age.
Fourth Cup: Hallel
The Psalms and their blessings are sung responsively.
The famous folksongs like Chad Gadya constitute a medieval
appendix to the Rabbinic four cup structure. top
A seder run completely by the leader - even though informative
and entertaining - is less desirable than a seder which encourages many
people to participate. Participation should not be limited to letting
everyone read a different paragraph in turn. We suggest that the leader
delegate responsibilities in advance. Ask several guests to take
charge of different sections of the seder for 3-5 minutes each. For example,
ask someone with good Hebrew to do the Kiddush, another with a psychology
background to present the Four Children, a drama person to act out the
Ten Plagues, and finally one with a good voice to lead the songs. Send
each a copy of the appropriate section of A Different Night,
which includes explanations, stories and activities, to help them prepare.
From our experience,
those most resistant to a lengthy seder can be turned into allies, if
they have a creative part to play that taps their special interests and
talents. Time goes by very quickly and painlessly when there is lots of
Bare Bones Basic Seder
To identify the recommended B.B.B. sections, follow the colored
that appears throughout A Different Night and skip the rest.
Then select a few enrichment activities and readings appropriate for this
years guests. In subsequent years you will probably want to vary
and expand on the B.B.B., but this is a good way to get started.
Before the Meal
1. Signposts of the Seder: Kadesh Urchatz
2. First Cup: Kiddush
3. Dips: Karpas
4. Breaking the Matza: Yachatz
5. The Story of the Matza: Ha Lachma
6. Four Questions: Ma Nishtana
7. Storytelling - We were slaves: Avadeem Hayeenu
8. Four Children
9. The Promise: Vhee She-am-da
10. The Tale of the Wandering Jew
11. Ten Plagues
13. Explaining Pesach, Matza and Maror
14. In every generation
15. Psalm 114: Hallel
16. Second Cup
17. Eating Matza, Maror, and Korech
After the Meal
19. Blessing after Eating: Barech
20. Third Cup
21. Elijahs Cup
22. Fourth Cup
23. Folksongs: Echad Mee Yo-dei-a; Chad Gad-ya
24. Next Year in Jerusalem: La-Shana Haba-a
Remember: sections 1-17 (before
the meal) should take about an hour. Add in a few activities, readings,
and discussions according to your choosing. It is wise for the leader
to select some sections in advance. Dont be surprised if people
begin to improvise and extend the seder voluntarily.