Imagine a Passover Seder with participants clutching tablets and listening to the Haggadah being read aloud by soothing male and female voices.
Originally published in 2012, the print version of this very progressive Haggadah has been transformed into a fairly static app with a few animated features. Six short videos featuring the Jewish philanthropist/author and his wife, the illustrator, have been created, but they do little to transform this attractive book into an exciting app. Though there is a full, multivoiced narration, few of the watercolor paintings have been animated. The tiny basket holding Moses travels through the Nile’s waters, and some candle flames flicker, but there are no real interactive features. The illustrator incorporates design elements from various cultures into her nonrepresentational paintings, but perhaps her most original addition is a map showing several possible routes for the Exodus. A traditional rendition of the English version of “Chad Gadya” is sung aloud, and there is an adapted version of “Dayenu,” with English words centering on the modern creation of Israel. Like many in non-Orthodox families today, the author has selected parts of the traditional telling and added some original touches. He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass and includes a poem about matzo by Marge Piercy. Bronfman’s relation of the story of Moses includes the handing down of the Ten Commandments and a description of the holiday of Shavuot (not usually found in the traditional text). In line with the author’s personal beliefs, he states that “[i]n this Haggadah, ‘God’ is understood as ‘energy’—an energy that is both transcendent (beyond us) and immanent (within us).” Little Hebrew is used, and the traditional prayers are mentioned but not printed, even in English. Miriam’s cup, a feminist tradition, is included, and the custom of inviting the prophet Elijah has been inserted closer to the beginning of the Seder than is traditional. There are a few unfortunate typos that should be corrected in an update.
Families who are interested in a contemporary, inclusive, nontraditional approach to the holiday may find this version useful for sharing with older children before the holiday (and techies may actually use it at the holiday feast itself). (glossary)