Choosing a Haggadah for Your Seder

wall-minThe Passover seder is the ritual most often celebrated by American Jews of all kinds — with every seder as unique as the people gathered around the table. Choosing the right haggadah for your gathering is key.

Here are some things to consider when picking a haggadah for your seder table:

Who will be at your seder?

Think about the people who will be at your seder this year, or who you’d like to feel welcome around your table in years to come.

Will they all be able to read Hebrew? Consider choosing a haggadah with consistent transliteration and English translations to be the most accessible. Try Season of Renewal.

Will they be familiar with the songs? If not (or if you’d like to add instrumental accompaniment), choose one with sheet music included for songs like Dayeinu and Chad Gadya. Try The Promised Land Haggadah.

What ages will people be? There are a number of haggadot just for kids and youth, and many family-friendly haggadot try to include stories and activities which appeal to all ages at the seder. Try Family Haggadah I for families with children under 5, or Family Haggadah II for tables with older kids.

What’s most important to you?

“A traditional seder with rich halachic commentary.” You might like a haggadah published by Artscroll or Koren, or one that has commentary by a rabbinic scholar. Try The Jonathan Sacks Haggadah.

“A seder that has lively conversation.” Many haggadot have prompts for discussion, ranging from current events to how we understand the traditional stories. Try Seder Talk: The Conversational Haggadah.

“Something that encourages introspection.” Seek out haggadot that invite reflection on our own journeys. Try The New American Haggadah or check out the Ayeka Haggadah (new in the store!).

“Something quick and easy.” There are a number of haggadot that trim down the content to create a streamlined ritual, answering the perennial question, “When do we eat?!” Try The 30 Minute Seder.

Do you want everyone to have the same haggadah?

Some families all have a basic haggadah and the seder’s leader adds in readings from a more interpretive haggadah. Some families get a new haggadah to try out every year, and seder-goers follow along in different books — the better to call out interesting content as they go along. Some families get individual haggadot for the kids at the table while the adults follow along in their own books. Some families find one great haggadah and give a copy to everyone.

Are there other elements that are important to you?

There are haggadot which are funny, feminist, literary, humanist, inclusive of folks with developmental disabilities, artistic, in foreign languages, mystical, and/or interfaith. We have many more haggadot in the store than are currently online — free free to call us and we can help you find what you’re looking for.

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Sometimes, it can feel a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears — this one is too long, this one is too short.

But the amazing plurality of Jewish practices mean that it is possible to find one that’s juuuuust right.

Wishing you and your loved ones a liberating Passover.

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