Mar 12, 2012

Four Questions About Haggadahs: Choosing the Right One

There are an incredible number of Haggadahs available for use during the seder, and the variety is wide. From cartooned children’s Haggdahs to Kabbalah influenced ones, feminist Haggadahs, ones with commentary from famous rabbis,  to highly visual, art-inspired Haggadahs to those that connect social issues to the Exodus story and those for Sephardic, Russian or contemporary American Jewish people….the list goes on and on. Selecting the best Haggadah can be a daunting task. Consider these questions as you determine which Haggadah will work best for your group.

Who is the audience?
Diversity of age, level of observance and even religion can be factors in making a selection. A haggadah is a tool for storytelling, recounting the history of the Jewish people. The experience of storytelling is most powerful when the audience is actively engaged. For this reason, selecting a haggadah that is too difficult or dense for many participants will not be as successful as using one that informs and holds everyone’s interest.

What level of observance does it fulfill?
While most Haggadahs include the same basic elements, some are designed to take 30 minutes or less, while some can be many times longer than that.  Is it important to you that the seder includes Hebrew or English? Does your family value new traditions like the ritual for Miriam’s Cup?

How does creativity fit into my family’s traditions?
Some families incorporate songs, skits, finger puppets or paper bag puppets, costumes and even new media, like YouTube clips and mp3s. Is this in line with your vision for an ideal seder, or is your approach much more traditional? 

From Sammy Spider's First Haggadah, as only the fabulous Sylvia Rouss and Kathy Janus Kahn could imagine!
What about Kar-Ben Haggadahs?
Kar-Ben has several different haggadahs, made with families in mind!

A Family Haggadah I is aimed at families with younger children than A Family Haggadah II. This is evidenced in the level of and type of discussion questions and seder enhancements that appear on the left hand pages of the two editions. Both include the blessings and major parts of the seder in both Hebrew and English, and the telling of the Passover story in English only.

A Family Haggadah I includes a seder checklist. A Family Haggadah I includes more songs appropropriate  for young children, including Let My People Go, The Frog Song. A Family Haggadah I has short version of Birkat Hamazon. The ritual for Miriam’s Cup is also included.

A Family Haggadah II has more detail in telling of the Passover story. A Family Haggadah II has the complete Birkat Hamazon. The ritual for Miriam’s Cup is included.

The My Very Own Haggadah is a great supplement for children in addition to whatever Haggadah your family uses. It tells the story of Passover in a simple way and includes pictures to help young children understand. But, what is the greatest about this particular Haggadah is that it is actually a coloring book, a terrific way to occupy squirmy little people during a seder.

Sammy Spider's First Haggadah also tells the story of Passover, and includes lots of Passover songs sung to popular tunes (like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”) that everybody at the table – Jews and non-Jews, observant or not --will know and can sing along. Invite this spider to any seders with small children, or to seders with many young-at-heart. 

Let My People Go presents the story of Exodus with a Readers’ Theater format. Divvy up the parts and jazz up your seder to make it one for the memory books.

Have a question about choosing the right Haggadah for your family? Call 1-800-4KARBEN to speak with a customer service representative about Kar-Ben’s family of Haggadahs.

What is your favorite Haggadah? Why?

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