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.