Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadah

Leora Ashman et al.

Urim Publications, Jerusalem. New York

128 pages, 20124



                                                                         Very instructive Haggadah


The new 2024 Urim Publications “Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadahis very instructive. The Passover Seder is a family meal and ceremony, frequently with guests, using an ancient book called Haggadah, “The Telling,” which contains multiple ancient writings designed to encourage participants to think about Jewish history, freedom, and the future and speak about the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus under Moses’ leadership from Egyptian slavery over 3,000 years ago. The ancient Jewish sages encouraged Seder leaders to seek ways to prompt participants to offer their thoughts about the departure and freedom and its meaning today because the Seder, the Haggadah used during it, and the ceremonies in it teach people today how to improve themselves and all that is created.

The Urim Haggadah contains many thoughtful insights into the meaning of the exodus, the Seder, and Passover that will enlighten the participants and spark conversation. The insights also address history, freedom, pain, adversity, loneliness, love, and loss, among many others.

Thirty-five Jewish men and women contributed short essays to stimulate participation. One points out that Moses tried to persuade God not to send him to Egypt by saying, “I am not a man of many words.” However, tonight, we read how he led the Israelites from slavery. Doesn’t this show that limited words can achieve great things? Can you think of examples?

Another wrote, among much else, that we need to understand the root of Israel’s Egyptian slavery. Didn’t it all begin when Jacob’s sons, Joseph’s brothers, showed hatred and envy? Doesn’t this tell us some things about what bitterness can lead to?

Still, another wrote, if Elijah is such a mighty prophet, why do we have to open the door for him at the Seder? Does this reveal something about opening the door for freedom?

A fourth reminded readers that the Israelites collapsed in fear when they saw the Egyptian chariots chasing after them and pleaded with Moses to let them return to Egypt and slavery. What does this tell us about human nature, fear, freedom, and how we should think and act?

The book details all the tools needed for the Seder and provides seven pages of instruction on managing the meal and ceremonies. The traditional Hebrew text of the Haggadah appears alongside easy-to-read commentaries in English. There are Seder instruction icons, a Hebrew copy of the biblical book Song of Songs, traditionally read in synagogues during Passover, which deals with love, is also included, and more.