JewishBoston.com’s half-hour haggadah

Crossposted to the New Voices blog

JewishBoston.com, the genius website that every other federation in the country should be clamoring to imitate, has created a new haggadah, “The Wandering is Over Haggadah.”

Much to the delight of people who get bored during the seder, they claim that this haggadah’s version of the seder should take only about 30 minutes. And much to the delight of open source Jewish text advocates, it’s licensed with a Creative Commons something-or-the-other. (Which means that they’ve made it available as both a .pdf and as a .doc so you can make edits, if you want.)

For a 30-minute seder, it looks pretty great. It takes as a given the 14-part order to the seder and then prunes the whole thing back to the essentials of each part. And it does this without cheapening the message, I think. Unlike most liturgically innovative things I encounter, it doesn’t make me cringe reading through it. Yet, it seems quite accessible for a mixed crowd of people with varying levels of experience with Passover.

It would be great for a Hillel that wants to lower the knowledge barrier to entry for a group of students who might not otherwise come. It could be advertised as “The 30-Minute Seder” on campus. I bet it would be a big draw.

In fact, I think I may use it. Last year, my housemate Dana and I created an event for our house–a pluralistic dorm environment called Spirituality House–called “Pre-Gaming for Passover: A Cinematic Semi-Seder.” I explained then that there were two things I saw as essential to the seder: the food and the story. So we first discussed the traditional foods and then we watched the excellent film “Prince of Egypt” while we ate. This year, I may try to fit the movie into the broader framework of this haggadah’s 30-minute seder.

So check that out.

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13 responses to “JewishBoston.com’s half-hour haggadah

  1. Richard Solomon

    Good tip, David, thanks. Will check it out.

    Question: “It takes a given the 14-part order … “?

  2. Hey,

    They left out שפוך חמתך!

    Seriously, its got some things that I might swipe – I like the Birkat Hamazon as an “Extended toast to God.” It also feels a bit rushed. The Concise Family Seder is about the same length, but with less bubbly language, it feels more laid back. Alas, we outgrew that years ago. One of these years I might do a BYOH Seder. Right now I’m editing a Haggadah that I don’t think will be ready for this year. But it’s fun work anyway.

  3. For Everybody? Not most of the people I know. And don’t you feel it’s about on the level elementary school? So really, you like it?

    • I wouldn’t use it with a group of friends who were all quite knowledgeable, but given that it didn’t make me cringe, I’d be willing to use it with a group of mixed knowledge levels.

      If you have mixture, the knowledgeable people will chime in from time to time to fill in what they as gaps in it anyway. I know I would if I was at a Seder with this haggadah that I wasn’t also leading.

      Maybe it’s on the level of elementary school if you went to yeshiva, but most Jews didn’t do that. Most have sat through some boring, long seders and been spaced out for most of it.

      • Substitute “Service” for “Seder” and tell me if you feel the same way.

        • I wouldn’t feel the same, but that’s because they’re not the same.

          The service is largely a well considered composition. The order of the service has an internal logic to it and even late additions–mostly–sit in sensible places.

          The seder, on the other hand, is mostly a mish-mosh.

  4. I’ll take a look at it! I need to edit and prune my haggadah this year so that the toddler gets to eat before bedtime. While I probably won’t use a 30 minute service just the ideas of what can be shortened will be helpful.

  5. If they were really smart they’d do a 30 minute Shaharit.

    I mean if the intention is that this is for the people who wouldn’t, no matter what, do a full Seder, then why not?

  6. The Creative Commons “By Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported” license is a mouthful but it’s important to explain what it stands for. (It’s also often shortened to CC-BY-SA). The license explicitly grants permission for anyone to freely adapt the work as they like and redistribute their new work, so long as they properly credit the original creators (in this case editors) and properly attribute the original work. The license also requires that any derivative works also be licensed with this same license. This has the effect of preserving a chain of attribution back to the original and keeping the creative content remix friendly in perpetuity. This “copyleft” license gives creators freedom to permit creative reuse of their work — that’s creative reuse that is by default restrained under Copyright Law’s “All Rights Reserved” application.

    The license has no bearing on the format works are shared in, but providing the work in an editable format reflects the same intention that the license serves: “please be free in adapting this work for yourself.”

    The CC-BY-SA is one of three licenses we use at the Open Siddur Project to share content for creative reuse. The other two are the CC0 (or CC Zero) a Public Domain dedication, and the CC-BY 3.0 Unported which only requires attribution in first-generation derivative works. The CC-BY 3.0 Unported license, is used by Haggadot.com to share content contributed through their service.

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