The Jewish Internet with Mark Mietkewicz, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
Passover is quickly approaching and that means pretty soon you’ll be reaching into a familiar drawer to pull out a stack of well-worn and slightly wine-stained Haggadahs.
Nothing will ever replace those Haggadahs and their special memories.
But if you spend a few minutes online, you can customize your own Haggadah with commentary and clear how-to instructions that will impress friends and family at the Seder.
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner provides three reasons to create a do-it-yourself Haggadah:
• Customize them for the two Seder nights which often have different participants, skills and interests.
• Enjoy them and then give them away as a souvenir for Seder guests.
• Use them to inspire intergenerational learning for grandparents, parents and children.
Lerner has created several Haggadahs that can be printed and combined. Some contain the entire bilingual text of the Seder, others have highlights only.
And then there’s the World’s Largest Seder Songbook, with all the traditional titles, as well as more than 100 contemporary tunes such as There’s No Seder Like Our Seder.
First, download the instructions for creating a do-it-yourself Haggadah at http://bit.ly/haga1. Then go to this page for all the links: bit.ly/haga15.
Haggadot.com allows you to mix and match with hundreds of “clips” to create your personalized Haggadah.
As the site explains, “Pieces from a Feminist Reconstructionist version may co-exist with selections from a Haggadah from the 1500s. A family of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews can include both traditions in one Haggadah. A family separated by distance may collaborate online to create a shared Haggadah for their separate Seders. Families may also access their folder over the years to track their changing history. Jews everywhere will understand that, whatever their background, they have a place at the global Seder table.”
When you’re done, add some commentary and a song or two, then print your own Haggadah. And if you have a favorite custom or insight you’d like to share, you are encouraged to contribute it to the site (bit.ly/haga19).
Now that you have the basics, you can get really creative. There are several sites that offer the Haggadah text in its entirety. Take a look at these Haggadahs and see if you’d like to incorporate them into yours.
Chabad’s Haggadah has clear step-by-step instructions in English. Or you can download another file that contains the entire Hebrew text of the Haggadah,with Hebrew instructions (bit.ly/haga20).
Unfortunately, Chabad doesn’t offer a bilingual Haggadah online, but Mechon-Mamre.org does: Hebrew and English side-by-side with clear instructions based on the Mishneh Torah (bit.ly/haga21).
Several classic Haggadahs have been scanned in their entirety and can be downloaded and printed out at the Torah on the Net site (bit.ly/haga22).
I particularly like the 1920 Hebrew-only edition that is “Arranged by J.D. Eisenstein” and “Illustrated by LOLA” with graphics that now have a decidedly retro flavor. You may want to limit your printing to the first 55 pages; it’s followed by 300 pages of commentary (bit.ly/haga23).
A bit less traditional but very wonderful site is Uncle Eli’s Special-for-Kids Most Fun Ever Under-the-Table Passover Haggadah. Written in the style of Dr. Seuss, Uncle Eli retells the Haggadah in a familiar yet unique way:
“Why is it only on Passover night we never know how to do anything right?
We don’t eat our meals in the regular ways, the ways that we do on all other days…
Cause on all other nights we may eat all kinds of wonderful good bready treats like big purple pizza that tastes like a pickle, crumbly crackers and pink pumpernickel…
Yes — on all other nights we eat all kinds of bread, but tonight of all nights we munch matzah instead (bit.ly/haga27).”
And if you’re planning to lead a Seder this year and need a bit of help with your Hebrew pronunciation or want to brush up on a tune, the Virtual Cantor is at your service. Actually, you’re at his service. The cantor — also known as Josh Sharfman — has recorded the entire traditional Haggadah and put it online so that you can listen to it anytime.
The Seder has been divided into 40 parts (e.g. Dayenu, Fourth Cup, Chad Gadya, etc.) so that you can easily jump to any part of the Haggadah. Listen online or download them onto your iPhone and review them anywhere (bit.ly/haga34).
Mark Mietkiewicz writes about resources for Jewish life to be found on the Internet. Contact him at email@example.com.