Every year, Haggadahs find new ways to convey the Jews’ exodus from slavery.
By Keri Guten Cohen
Once again, there are many new Haggadot out there to try this year. Here’s a round-up of some, including one by Ann Arbor resident Carol Bloom Levin.
Levin was on a mission to create a child-friendly Haggadah that would appeal to her young grandchildren Aaron and Julia. What she ended up with is a lovely book called Haggadah Regatta that features text and colorful, playful illustrations by the author.
She is a self-described “writer and an artist and a do-it-yourselfer.” She’s also the great-great-granddaughter of Jacob Silberman, the first president of Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township.
Decades ago, she wrote A Rosh Hashanah Walk (Kar-Ben Publishers, 1987). In 2017, she says an idea for a new holiday tale sprouted while she was kayaking on the Huron River.
Haggadah Regatta combines meaningful ritual text with the tale of a matzah raft that only sails if all onboard stomp. Two little kids (a boy and his goat) lead a crew of shoes through the highlights of a traditional seder, calling on big kids and grown-ups to help sail the raft.
Levin created the prototype in two weeks and then tested it out on her family at their seder. What followed was a year of revisions.
The book was published this January and had been available at Amazon and other online book sellers, but just three weeks before the holiday it was pulled from those sources because her printer in Dexter announced it filed for bankruptcy, Levin says. She now can only sell them herself or through independent bookstores or shops.
To purchase Haggadah Regatta ($9.99) in time for the seders, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Coby’s Judaica Center at the Detroit Jewish Community Center or Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor.
Other Interesting Haggadot
A hot new Haggadah comes in the form of a graphic novel by Jewish cartoonist Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Israeli illustrator Erez Zadok, with translation by David Olivestone. For nearly a decade, Gorfinkel was a manager for the Batman franchise at DC Comics, where his creations serve as inspiration for TV, film, games and more.
The Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel integrates a new, modern translation into sophisticated and fun sequential art that brings the epic story to life. In an interesting twist, the traditional Haggadah pages are presented opposite the graphic illustrations making for a dynamic mix of old and new. How-to instructional cartoons depict all the rituals. The Haggadah should be appealing to all ages.
The hardcover book ($19.95, Koren) is available at Amazon and KorenPub.com ($14.96 at press time).
Tired of your traditional Maxwell House Haggadah? Try a new version from the company — its limited-edition Maisel Haggadah, featuring illustrations and other shtick based on the popular Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel about an aspiring Jewish female comedian and her extended family in late 1950s New York.
The Maisel Haggadah is a return to an earlier Haggadah Maxwell House has offered free in stores since 1932. This new version scatters Maisel characters throughout, has handwritten notes by actress Rachel Brosnahan’s character and even fake wine stains.
Get yours only by ordering Maxwell House coffee through Amazon.com.
Kveller.com is offering a downloadable Kveller Haggadah perfect for families with children. It is written by Elissa Strauss and Gabrielle Birkner with engaging illustrations by Hane Grace Yagel.
Designed to guide families through an epic journey from slavery to freedom, this version goes deep into Jewish traditions in a kid-friendly way, yet without losing the dramatic tensions of the Passover story. The Haggadah was created to promote curiosity, even when there are no easy answers.
To download a free version, go to kveller.com/download-the-kveller-haggadah or for a paperback version ($9), go to Amazon.
The Family and Frog! Haggadah is written by Rabbi Ron Isaacs and Karen Rostoker-Gruber with illustrations by Jackie Urbanovic. This over-sized paperback published by Behrman House in 2017 is playful, colorful and instructive.
Green and friendly, Frog hops throughout the book offering his take on the traditional Passover story — and seems to be always on the lookout for flies. In addition to presenting the usual parts of the seder, the book offers checklists for seder preparation, songs, historic trivia and suggested activities to keep young and old engaged. All are presented in a lively yet organized manner featuring photos and historic illustrations to make things easy.
The toad-ily delightful Haggadah is available on Amazon ($7.50 at press time) and barnesandnoble.com ($7.95).