The Rise of the D.I.Y. Haggadah

“It has such a powerful hold on the imagination because it tells a story of freedom through slavery,” said Arthur Kiron, the curator of the Judaica collection at the libraries of the University of Pennsylvania, whose famed Arnold Levin Haggadah Collection contains 1,800 volumes in 15 languages.

For creators who have spent months, and sometimes years, to create their own, often self-funded works, the format of the holiday, the storytelling tradition and the advent of the internet have all helped.

Much like Thanksgiving, the Seder is a cultural touchstone: widely celebrated, accessible to those on the fringes or even outside of the community. That it takes place in the home invites familial traditions, and much as parents may feel the need to impart the story and its message to the next generation, there’s also the reality of competing with limited attention spans and hungry mouths during the hours before dinner is served. (For the last two years, “30 Minute Seder” has been the best-selling Haggadah on Amazon. Most of these titles are available there. For indecisive or enthusiastic buyers, an online store called Haggadahs-R-Us offers a selection of five titles: a haggadah sampler set.)

“The Haggadah almost demands that it be interactive,” said Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, the author of the HIAS Haggadah. “It’s designed to utilize all your senses. It’s a really sensory holiday. It’s a really a home-based holiday. It’s something that anybody can do.”

Many communities, especially those outside of Israel, host Seders on two consecutive nights. “Two nights really lends itself to having a fun second night,” said Mr. Cowen — enter the alternative Haggadah.

Avid collectors have even bequeathed rare titles and entire collections to the University of Pennsylvania; Emory University; the University of California, Berkeley; the British Museum; the Morgan Library; and the Library of Congress, whose Washington Haggadah dates back to 1478.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/style/diy-haggadah.html

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