Passover 101

What is Passover?

Passover is the best. It’s a holiday with its own book, the Haggadah. How cool is that?! It guides our celebration of the freedom of the People of Israel from slavery in Egypt long ago. 

What is a Haggadah?

The word haggadah comes from the same root as “to tell” in Hebrew. And where the Maggid is our chance to retell the Jews’ Exodus from Egypt story, the haggadah is meant as a guide to the entire Seder. A good one will serve as a follow-along reader for you and your guests, taking them through each step with instructions, explanations, talking points, ideas for further reflection, and, of course, all of the texts you will be reading, singing, or discussing.

What types of Haggadot are there?

There are seemingly endless types of haggadot (the plural of haggadah) available, characterized by different intended target audiences, religious and political affiliations, thematic foci, and so on. For example, the kibbutz movements in Israel, largely known for their Socialism, was one of the powerhouses of haggadah production in modern times, creating new liturgy and texts to align with their secular take on the themes of freedom, bondage, and labor, as well as an augmented emphasis on the agricultural roots of Passover as a celebration of Spring and the start of the agricultural cycle.

There are haggadot for children, interfaith couples, members of the LGBT community, and just about any sort of group or affiliation you can think of. This is perhaps the clearest testament to the universality of the themes of Passover and the efficacy of its participatory and symbol- and ritual-based format in drawing partakers in so they leave feeling enlightened and renewed.

Why should I make my own haggadah?

As you can see from the above, there is nothing at all unusual about authoring custom-made haggadot. The whole objective of the Seder both as a didactic and an experiential endeavor is to get people to participate, ask questions, formulate opinions, and generally interact with the Seder experience. The last thing we want is for people to feel left out or that things are going over their heads.

For this very reason, it is a great idea to make your own haggadah, based on the particular group of people you envision around your Seder table. But don’t worry, this in no way means you have to reinvent the wheel! We at are here to provide you with all of the resources we can, so you can pick and choose and fashion a haggadah out of the elements that most speak to you and your guests.

Another wonderful aspect of making your own haggadah is that the copies you use at the Seder can double as Passover gifts for your guests to take with them as both a memory of the special time you will have spent together, as well as for future use for years to come. This is especially true if you are planning on hosting kids or people who have never attended a Seder before. The more engaging to them personally you can make the haggadah, the more they will enjoy using it.