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A Different Night, The Family Participation Haggadah Paperback – January 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews


New Haggadah Earmarked for Families BY NOW THERE are who-knows-how-many different editions of the Haggadah. It is probably the most published book in all of Jewish life. There are haggadot for vegetarians, peaceniks, secularists, art lovers and almost every category you can think of. So what do we need another one for? That was my thought until I opened this one, and then I understood which niche this book fills. It is for those who may not know much, but who want to learn and who want a seder that is user-friendly and interactive and meaningful for both adults and children. That is a pretty big segment of the market, and so this is a book that deserves to be considered for possible use for at least one, if not both, of the nights of the seder. The people who put it together are not only good pedagogues, they are master designers. And so they have worked out a number of formats and prompters on each page that make it clear and easy to use For those who don t want to or are unable to stay up till midnight, there is a bare bones seder that consists of both text and ideas for discussion and projects for the kids and that can be completed in an hour. There are thought questions, such as Was it right for Abraham to break his father's idols? and Are we not all Jews by choice today? that are bound to raise debate at the seder. And there are quotations from a whole range of people such as Frances Bacon, William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill as well as Maimonides and Rav and Chassidic masters. Shakespeare s thoughts about whether revenge is good or bad are a lovely sendoff to the discussion of why we spill ten drops of wine for the ten plagues. The whole idea of the seder is that it should be an experiment in intergenerational communication. And so the editors do something very special with the section about the four children. They bring us 15 pages of different drawings, so that we can discuss together what constituted wiseness and what constituted badness, and what constituted simpleness and inability to ask in different periods and in the imagination of different artists. They show us a rendition from the Prague Haggadah (1526) and, next to it, one from Budapest (1924). And they suggest we might do some role playing or debate whether the wicked child may be an unfair description. They show us Abrabanel's opinion that the wise child may really be a smart ass, wise guy trying to show off his knowledge instead of the good guy that we have always thought him to be. There are renditions of the four children that show the wicked son smoking at the seder (1879) or as a prize fighter (1920). Tanya Zion adds two marvelous sets: one of the four versions of the ideal Jewish girl and one of the four children in contemporary Israel. See if you can figure out why the haredi child is the one who does not know how to ask. A set by Dick Codor uses the Marx brothers as models (quick do you remember which one never spoke?) I bet you can t get through this section of the seder without many laughs and a lively interchange on what constitutes goodness or wisdom or rebelliousness or apathy in our age. But try to save some time for the rest of the Haggadah, for there are a lot of innovations and surprises all through this book. By the way, one of its best suggestions is to expand the meaning of the karpas that we eat at the beginning of the seder to include dipping and tasting various fresh vegetables and other appetizers so that When do we eat already? does not become the kvetch of the evening. The seder is not supposed to be an endurance contest or a speed race or a rushed-through prelude to the meal. It is supposed to be a holy moment, when parents teach children who we are and what our story is and manufacture the memories that will nourish them for years to come. --Rabbi Jack Riemer, Jewish Journal South

Good to the Last Cup Did Maxwell House kill the American Passover Seder? It seems like a heavy charge to pin on a coffee company. But who knows how many Jewish children, numbly and obediently flipping through the pages of the blue and white Maxwell House came to regard the seder as a stultifying arcane ritual, a regimented recitation of thees and thous, an endurance test as lacking in levity as leaven? Is it only a coincidence that in the 70 years since Maxwell House began distributing tens of thousands of haggadot as promotional items, the intermarriage rate among Jews has soared? The rabbis never intended that the Exodus From Egypt be recited rote out of a paperback book. And Noam Zion and David Dishon don't intend that either. They have written a Passover haggadah for families eager to dispense with set questions and answers but intimidated by the prospect as well. Careful to retain the traditional core of the haggadah the 15 steps beginning with the first cup of wine and kiddush and concluding with the hallel, nirtza prayer and folk songs they weave around the text a tapestry of ancient midrash, contemporary commentary, provocative questions, and unexpected answers. They involve the children, with skits, games, and gentle horseplay. Some are silly like the Afghani Jewish custom of striking your neighbor with a stalk of green onion during the chanting of Dayenu. Others encourage introspection, like asking children to name the one object they would carry with them out of Egypt. At the same time, adults are urged to consider the mature themes of what Zion and Dishon call a leap of solidarity back into the founding event of Jewish nationhood. The heart of this effort is the section they call maggid or storytelling. The section takes the form of six suggested symposia on timeless themes: assimilation, anti-Semitism, ancient Egyptian oppression, resistance to tyranny, sexual oppression and the lessons of suffering. The sources brought to bear are as varied as Reb Nachman of Braslav, and Abraham Lincoln, Zora Neale Hurston and Victor Frankl. Because the authors are superb Jewish educators and scholars on the staff of Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute (founded by Orthodox philosopher Rabbi David Hartman to create a common language among the most and least traditional Jews), their Haggadah avoids the easy relevance that has reduced recent haggadot to public service announcements on nuclear war or women s rights. When the authors urge a discussion, they offer appropriate texts on Jewish tradition, contradictory views, that invites the opinions of guests across the range of religious, ideological and generational perspectives. A few warnings for those who undertake to host a post-Maxwell House seder. As the authors point out, their haggadah contains enough material for a few years of seders and some preparation is advised to select themes, pull out readings, and assign roles. The other risk is that a long session of discussion and storytelling, however stimulating, can't compete with the smells emanating from the kitchen. Zion and Dishon suggest you revive the original rabbinic custom (forbidden by some, although not all, spoil sport halachic authorities): Along with the vegetable that is dipped into saltwater near the beginning of the seder, offer substantive appetizers with dips of their own. And if intelligent conversation, imaginative role-playing, and probing questions aren't enough to keep some guests awake? There's always coffee. --Andres Silow-Carroll, Moment Magazine

About the Author

Noam Sachs Zion and David Dishon, educated in ivy league schools in the U.S., made aliyah to Israel in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. They are on the Judaica faculty of the Shalom Hartman Institute for advanced Jewish studies in Jerusalem. Noam runs the curriculum development department specializing in Bible, midrash and art. He also contributed to the Bill Moyers book entitled Talking about Genesis (Doubleday) issued in conjunction with the Moyers Genesis series. David Dishon is the Judaic studies coordinated at the experimental Hartman high school, author of The Pluralistic Culture Of Rabbinic Debate (Schocken, Hebrew) and currently writing on rabbinic views of warfare.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Shalom Hartman Inst; New Storytellers' Edition edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966474007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966474008
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jack Turner VINE VOICE on March 7, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It would be too easy to state what Noam Zion and David Dishon have done, or potentially done, the content and variety available for one Seder. This particular Haggadah is crammed with all sorts of information and stimulus. That is both a compliment and a criticism. Unfortunately, while it is jam-packed with lots of good things, the amount of information can be distracting or, worse, a turn off. Additionally, while everything is organized along the lines of the traditional Seder, it's not always easy to find some of the extraneous information. Additionally, the large number of inserts can frustrate or just plain annoy a reader. Nevertheless, there are many positive things to say about this Haggadah. First, the variety of information probably means you will never have to buy another Haggadah again, or at least not another leader's assistant. There are enough activities to be fresh every year. Second, the text and Hebrew transliterations are fluid and easy to read. The two authors have gone all out to produce this Haggadah, and it shows in the quality of the work and the price of the volume. That in mind, you may want to buy one copy to serve as an idea catalyst and a less expensive Haggadah for general use. It is well worth the price to buy one and those with larger budgets will benefit from additional copies.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Julian Gilbey on April 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This haggadah is revelutionary in its approach, and at the same time, completely traditional. The seder is meant to be alive, for all involved. It is meant to be enjoyable -- even the part before the meal. It is meant to stimulate the children and the adults. This is the haggadah to achieve that. With provoking ideas on every other page, facing the traditional text, using many different techniques, there will be something to excite everyone. From the series of a dozen or so charicatures of the four sons spanning several centuries, to a newspaper from the time of the Exodus; from thought provoking chasidic stories to modern approaches to the concept of freedom, noone will be bored any longer. And the leader's guide (a companion volume) will make this the most memorable seder to are likely to have ever experienced.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Jason Miller on April 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
You cannot go wrong with A Different Night from the Hartman Institute as your official seder haggadah. This haggadah claims to put forth a lively dialogue between parent and child, and it does just that. The explanations, commentary, and ease-of-use make this one of the best haggadot on the market. The personal reflection sections will help you turn your seder into a family renewal ceremony and will keep even the most apathetic guest from boredom.
My favorite part of this haggadah is its collection of the many artistic representations of the Four Children, giving you a beautiful art-filled haggadah that can be used at the seder table. You could easily spend half your seder discussing the artists' interpretations.
In typical Hartman Institute fashion, this haggadah is well assembled, pedagogically effective, and extremely leader-friendly. It will be well worth the investment to 86 your standard edition Maxwell House free haggadot and make this your haggadah-of-choice.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TravelMod on February 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think of this book as a great seder-planning resource but not one to pass out and use at the seder. The book's size and format are awkward.
Some of the fonts and drawings (all black and white) are small and/or pale.
If used in its entirety, this would creat a long seder. The good points are that the language is gender-neutral, the readings and activity suggestions are engaging for a variety of ages and family configurations, and there is plenty of traditional Hebrew with transliteration to make it seem like a "real" seder.
I would not recommend the Leader's guide. The additional expense isn't worth the price, and there are plenty of free online resources if you feel that the Different Night Haggadah isn't helpful enough. It's pretty self-explanatory though.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on March 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Reads Right to Left. As the authors write, it is a Haggadah to grow with, year after year. Each seder can be different from the prior years', by selecting new readings. The Haggadah is tagged with shortcuts for those who want to conduct a quick seder, but not to miss the educational spirit of the process. The Bare Bones Basic Seder readings are tagged with a BBB diamond symbol (think of the symbol of hot and spicy entrees on a Chinese restaurant menu). The haggadah opens with Erev Pesach and the Search for Chametz, followed by the burning of the Chametz. The haggadah also explains Chametz as a symbol of personal arrogance in its commentaries. The right facing pages are the Hebrew and English seder. The left facing pages are commentaries and tidbits to share at the table. The seder is presented in Hebrew with English translations. The blessings and major paragraphs (such as Ha lachma Anya) have English transliterations also. The Four sons are rendered as Four CHILDREN, and includes a commentary on whether labeling children is dynamic or static, and whether Abram would have been labeled a rebellious child since he founded monotheism against his father's wishes. It is followed by six pages of the Four Children in Art, 1920-1988. This haggadah also includes sections for Shifra and Puah, the heroic women who saved Moses and other babies. The MAGGID or Symposium section contains selections for the assembled on a variety of topics, such as Sexual liberation, Resistance, Rabbinics, Assimilation, Antisemitism, Oppression, or the Wandering Jews. Choose one and discuss, or make up your own Symposium one year. The Ten plagues includes a commentary on a Pacifist's view of the plagues. Dayenu is in English, Hebrew, and transliteration.Read more ›
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