Friday, March 30, 2012
For many years, my family used the Maxwell House Haggadah. Yes, the same one that it is used at the Obama family seder. And we, for the most part, loved it. The flowery old-fashioned language, the tiny print, the long-winded explanations...and we read almost everything out loud, round-robin around the table. As I got older, there were some personal attempts to re-read the text with gender neutral language, an issue that had begun to weave its way to the forefront of my mind as I came into my teen years.
Then one year, I felt particularly put upon by the language. I don't really recall what triggered it, but I'm sure it was a crack about the four sons, and how if we were going to neutralize it, then we should probably make the wicked one a daughter...either way, I came home from the first seder in a terrible state, and that night and the whole next day, I typed and copied and pasted and created....a whole new Haggadah.
Yep, that's right. In one day. Most of it was the Maxwell House language, just neutralized. But I managed to change a few things by searching, in the early days of the internet, for creative stuff.
And I showed up at second seder, slipped into the dining room, and quietly replaced all the Maxwell House Haggadot with "Phyl's Haggadah: A Seder for the 90s."
Do you want to know something? My family handled it with grace and respect, and ever since, we have used Phyl's Haggadah...well, now a very-updated-oh-I-wrote-my-rabbinic-thesis-on-the-Haggadah-so-I-know-a-lot-more version.
With that, I felt redeemed. Out of the narrow place of the Haggadah that no longer spoke to me, I found redemption in new and different language, in words that followed the ancient text but were no longer bound to it.
How do you find a Haggadah that speaks to you?
P.S. over at my other blog today, there's a review of the New American Haggadah.