Dissatisfied with traditional Haggadot, I have been editing a family Hagaddah each year since the early 90’s! Well, as technology changed so did the process of compiling and editing the Hagaddah! In the early years, cut and paste meant scissors and glue! Sources were all books; we are talking pre-Google; it was exiting to have a computer and a printer!
Imagine how exciting it is this year to be part of The Neverending Hagaddah; an online community crowd-sourced Hagaddah. People all over the world who are committed to telling the story of Passover gather on-line bringing cutting edge technology to an age old story; an innovation that not only transcends location but time- contributors share source materials dating back centuries, today’s contributions spread into the cloud. This on-line project has created opportunity to not only search through thousands of clips from a vast array of traditional and contemporary sources but to add original contributions.
There is just something wondrous reenacting a ritual done by past generations for hundreds of years. It is through these rituals that Judaism does not become one of those lost cultures we study in museums, but remains a vibrant way of viewing and engaging in the world. It is amazing to fuse the most modern form of communication with ancient ritual; storytelling and social media side by side with a common goal, each inspiring the other.
While studying at the Hartman Institute during Passover 2005, there was an interpretation of the purpose Hagaddah that was particularly fascinating; that, rather than being created to read cover to cover at the Passover table, it was designed to be an instruction guide for the leader. At a time when books were rare, literacy rates may have been low, and there were no schools of education, directions as to how to create a memorable and instructional ‘class’ were important. A list of the 14 steps or syllabus/course outline is first, suggestions of unusual activities such as dipping vegetables and leaning on pillows were included as examples to encourage young children to participate and ask questions. Descriptions of the different types of learners, and multi-sensory techniques to adapt to individual learning styles are all part of the oldest form of the Hagaddah. So, it can be said that including contemporary writings, specifically included to make the experience more personal, for we are instructed to say that we ourselves were liberated from Egypt, may be exactly what the authors had in mind in the first place.
The link from generation to generation is only as strong as the weakest link. At times, for various reasons, the links are quite fragile, and, once broken, they must be sought out, much like an Afikomen hidden at a Seder held long ago. Where the links are strong, for each holiday there is a memory of the food, the people, the rituals. There are stories; funny, tragic, mesmerizing which connect the past to the present and in the telling, the present to the future. For our generation this Neverending Hagaddah strengthens an important link.
As Jews, our history is not tied to one specific place or country- we were scattered to the four corners of the earth. In the diaspora we struggle with the dynamic tension of assimilating yet keeping a portion of our identity set apart. When we are successful in keeping that separation we maintain vital connections with those scattered people the world over who are sitting around a table in celebration- as we are this night, recounting the story of the Exodus, in Ladino, Russian, Amharic, Polish...
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Anyone you invite to collaborate with you will see everything posted to this haggadah and will have full access to edit clips.