In the Book of Exodus, we are taught how to observe the annual festival of Passover. We
retell the story of our enslavement and subsequent redemption as an integral part of the
observance. Torah commands us to teach our children, “It is because of what God did for
me when I went forth from Egypt,” creating an immediate connection between the text
and our lives today.
Like many of the Jewish holidays, Passover is observed primarily in the home. During
the Seder, we do not rely on clergy or other synagogue leaders to shape the holiday for us
– we create the holiday experience ourselves. To that end, many different Haggadot have
been developed over the years to reflect the interests of different participants and also to
speak to various populations or issues.
Generally, each Haggadah includes the same basic Seder format, including the teachings
about the matzah, maror (bitter herbs), and pesach (the shank bone). The other items on
the Seder plate are also explained. We learn about the four cups of wine, the four
children, and recite the four questions. We discuss and commemorate the ten plagues. We
open the door for Elijah the Prophet. We sing songs of redemption, praise, and thanks.
Yet, the way each family interprets and expands upon each section of the Haggadah can
Within the Haggadah, there are many opportunities to add additional readings or
elaborate on the social action themes already present. Many of today’s themed Haggadot
contain similar points during the Seder at which creative interpretations are appropriate.
The following are some of the most common opportunities, for home or synagogue use,
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