One Haggadah has arrived this year with a fanfare of hype, befitting its high-profile contributors: The New American Haggadah, edited by novelist Jonathan Safran Foer.
Our reviewer praised its beauty. The New York Times has written about it extensively. The Jewish Review of Books has bashed it (in a review, by Leon Wieseltier, that sadly wallows in high-minded nostalgia rather than discussing the New American Haggadah’s actual failures and triumphs.) And President Barack Obama has politely declined to use it in place of the Maxwell House Haggadah at his White House seder.
But where the marquee names of the editor, the translator (novelist Nathan Englander), and the commentators are well known to those who read the New York Times Book Review, Israeli typographer Oded Ezer is far less familiar. However, as the person responsible for the entire visual appearance of the New American Haggadah ““ the large color Hebrew texts that serve as illustration; the
(controversial) 90 degree angle by which the commentaries are rotated from the main body of the book; and even the shape of the actual Hebrew letters.
So, if you’re one of those who purchased the Haggadah, you’ll want to take a minute and read the extensive interview with him published in Print Magazine. A taste:
For the overall design I had an idea: I would come up with a way of writing Hebrew letters for each spread that would be taken from the lettering done in the years on the time line.
Read the whole thing. Also, the first time I’ve read a reporter in a graphic design publication confess to being married to a rabbi.