New looks at an ancient book

New looks at an ancient book

Among the many Haggadot and related books just out for this Pesach is "The Jewish World Family Haggadah," with photographs by Zion Ozeri and edited by Shoshana Silberman, consultant to the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education (ibooks, $9.95). Ozeri, creator of The Jewish Lens, a curriculum for middle and high school students that uses photography to teach Jewish values (and has been adopted locally by the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies), has photographed Jewish communities all over the world. Some no longer exist, but the stunning, poignant photographs remain to tell their story.

Along with the traditional text, the Haggadah includes questions, poems, stories, and activities that can be used to deepen the meaning and enhance the experience of this already profound ritual.

"Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? — The Four Questions Around the World," by Ilana Kurshan, with an introduction by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin (Schocken Books, $16).

The traditional Four Questions are translated into ‘3 languages and served up with capsule histories of the Jewish communities in the countries in which the languages are spoken. Also included are illustrations of Jewish life in countries from Ethiopia to Holland, from China to Ancient Rome. Telushkin’s introduction provides the answer to the questions, placing the traditional celebration of Passover in its historic context.

In "Vayaged Yehonatan — The Eybeshitz Hagaddah" (Devorah Publishing, $’4.95), by Rabbi Shalom Hammer — a lecturer and educator who teaches in the Yeshiva Hesder Kiryat Gat and Yeshivat Hesder Sderot — provides a translation and commentary of this text by Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz, an 18th-century talmudist, halachist, and kabbalist. The work has never before been translated into English. The book incorporates all of Rav Yehonatan’s "Exodus" works in a series of free-flowing discourses, providing new insights into the concept of redemption and yielding a work that can be used not only at the seder table but studied throughout the year.

"A Mystical Haggadah" by Rabbi Eliahu Klein, the author of "Kabbalah of Creation," features a spiritual interpretation of the seder (North Atlantic Books, $16.95). Subtitled "Passover Teachings, Meditations, and Tales," it is replete with chasidic lore and legends and kabbalistic interpretations. Seekers in all streams of Judaism may find some treasure here.

"30minute Seder: The Haggadah that Blends Brevity with Tradition," by Robert Kopman and Bil Yanok, includes highlights of the traditional seder in a streamlined and brightly illustrated format. While brief, it contains all the essential prayers in Hebrew with transliteration, as well as traditional seder songs. It’s also available in Braille and large-print formats. The 6" x 9" edition can be ordered from, at $5.95 per copy or downloaded for $16.95.

Once again, free large-print Passover Haggadahs are available from the Jewish Heritage for the Blind in Hebrew/English or Hebrew only. Write to the organization at 1655 East ‘4th St., Brooklyn, NY 11”9 or send a fax to (718) 338-0653.