The Hagaddah is the name for the text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover holiday, detailing a narrative of the Exodus, or escape from slavery in Egypt. Various publishers have created different editions of the Hagaddah. The Haggadah tells about the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt and the miracles G-d did when freeing them. The word, Haggadah, means, “telling”, which comes from the Biblical command. As a Jewish family sits around the festive table on Passover night and reads the Haggadah, all of its members are not only retelling that seminal experience of the Jewish nation, but are reliving it as well. Egyptian exile and the Exodus from it are blueprints for Jewish history. Each generation can find in the Haggadah so much guidance in understanding its own trials and triumphs. Therefore, the Haggadah is the ultimate curriculum for a crash course in Jewish history.
A lot of Jewish families use the “Maxwell House edition” Hagaddah. Maxwell House brand coffee, which is Kosher (acceptable under Jewish dietary laws) for Passover, for years has given out free Haggadot with the Maxwell House logos on the cover, in an effort to encourage use of its product during the holidays. Millions of Jewish homes across America have piles of these Haggadahs which are dusted off and pulled out of the cupboard once a year.
More recently, notable authors have edited the text of the Hagaddah to make it more relevant to our time, incorporating themes of slavery, redemption, and freedom. A few examples of current authors who have compiled these texts include Elie Wiesel and Jonathan Saffran Foer.
More traditional households will gravitate towards the Artscroll edition, or Hagaddahs endorsed by their favorite rabbi or rabbinical scholar. However, regardless of what Hagaddah is used, all Seders include the Passover story of the escape from Egypt and certain Passover rituals such as the Passover seder plate, drinking four cups of wine, eating bitter herbs (Maror), saying the blessing over matza (Hamotzi), having the Shulchan Orech, or Passover Feast featuring lots of delicious Passover recipies, and concluding the seder with a prayer that the seder next year shall be in Jerusalem. We hope that in 2014 and beyond, the Passover Bingo Game will become an important part of families’ Passover celebrations!