Haggadah: Telling The Story
Haggadah is the Hebrew word for “telling the story.” Traditionally, the word is used to refer to an actual book from which the traditional stories and songs are read during the family Seder meal of the Jewish Passover (or Pesach).
The exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt
The Haggadah recounts the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt through miracles, signs and wonders, as told in the first 15 chapters of the Old Testament book of Exodus. The Haggadah text contains the psalms and songs which are retold and sung to celebrate the recollection of these historic events in the life of the Jewish people.
In Old Testament times, when personal copies of the holy scrolls were not yet available, the Hebrew people sang psalms and passed the holy stories along verbally, from one generation to the next. A much-loved and often quoted passage is the “Shema,” which reads:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Over the centuries, as technology advanced, published copies became available to individual families. Traditionally, each Jewish household possesses a copy of the Haggadah, which family members use each year when they gather around the table for the Seder dinner.
Various printed versions are widely available in popular bookstores. Prices start at $3.99 for paperbacks. (Free copies may often available at temples and synagogues. Leather-bound heirloom editions can be quite costly.)
Several popular-level titles appeal particularly to families with younger children:
A Different Night, The Family Participation Haggadah, by David Dishon
A Family Haggadah II, by Shoshana Silberman
Family Haggadah: A Seder for All Generations, by Elie M. Gindi
Family Haggadah: Hagadah Shel Pesah, by Scherkan Zlotowitz
My Very Own Haggadah, by Judyth Saypol Groner
The Family Haggadah, by Ellen Schecter
The Really Fun Family Haggadah, by Larry Stein
Books for Messianic (Jewish) Christians include:
Celebrate the Feasts of the Old Testament in Your Own Home or Church, by Martha Zimmerman
Christ in the Passover, by Ceil and Moishe Rosen
Passover Haggadah: A Messianic Celebration, by Eric-Peter Lipson
A Hebrew-English Transliterated version of the Haggadah is available on CD-rom for Mac and Windows. In a transliteration, the Hebrew and English translations appear together, line by line.
In addition, the Foundation for Family Education, located in Pennsylvania, offers free downloadable materials (at www.Jewishfreeware.org) for creating a do-it-yourself Haggadah.
At Passover and always, may the faithful rejoice and declare, “Adir Hu” (G-d is powerful!).