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Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists: A Passover Ritual Paperback – February 7, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


As someone who collects Haggadahs...I recommend this, March 4, 2006

Tired of using the same Haggadah over and over and over again? Ready to shake things up a little and get a fresh perspective and, hopefully, some heightened spiritual insight?

Then this is a Haggadah worth considering. Written with all the traditional Hebrew prayers, this is perfect for mixed families, as both Jewish culture and Buddhist philosopy are represented.

This was written primarily for Jews so don't assume it is a thorough representation of Buddhism. However, it does use Buddhism to add an extra bit of peace, stillness and, yes, even meditation to the Passover ritual.

As you might expect, the more violent aspects of the Passover story are balanced by the emphasis on peace of Buddhism (at least, the Buddhism represented here).

Each year, we try to bring something new to our holiday. Perhaps you'll find value in doing the same. If so, this book could be one great way to do so. --K. Corn "Reviewer" of the first edition

The Four Questions Meet the Four Noble Truths

Even though I grew up in an agnostic Jewish family, the Passover seder was an important event every year. Passover was the only Jewish holiday we ever celebrated.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached the Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists. While Buddhist meditation practice is very important to me, I am not all that adventurous when it comes to Passover.

But as I read through the Jewish/Buddhist hagaddah, an attempt to express the universal theme of Passover to traditional Jews, Buddhists and people of diverse spiritual leanings, my trepidation melted away and I found myself intrigued by the idea of trying something new.

Right from start, this hagaddah, written by Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim, speaks to the symbolic power of the holiday as it describes the enslavement of the Jews and their journey to freedom as a metaphor for consciousness and our own striving for release from attachment and toward spiritual growth.

While this hagaddah is structurally the same as Reform-style seders and includes all the familiar sections, it's the language and interpretation that makes all the difference.

I jumped ahead to the Four Questions, probably the most important part of the seder for the way that it perpetuates the Jewish tradition of questions and dialogue.

In this section, the authors speaks directly to the traditionalist, the humanist or secular Jew, the Buddhist, and non-Jewish friends, a thought-provoking attempt to explain the universal meanings of Passover to a diverse group of people.

As I read it, I recognized that my Buddhist self has everything to do with my secular Judaism.

Now the really big question: Do I want to integrate these two traditions and conduct a Jewish/Buddhist seder?

I think it's worth a try. If I can communicate Passover's message of freedom while conveying my interest in self-discovery and spiritual growth to my children, I say why not?

Whatever happens, it should, at the very least, provoke a great conversation over our gefilte fish. --Louise Crawford,

About the Author

Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim, born and raised Catholic by parents who instilled their life-long fascination with Buddhism into her family life, married into Judaism some 20 years ago.

In the past two decades she attended and co-hosted more than two dozen Seders attended by friends of all religious and spiritual beliefs. To make Passover meaningful to Seder guests at her home, she began creating version of the traditional Seder story to emphasize its universal themes meaningful to Traditional Jews, Buddhists and others.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Haggadah Distribution; 2nd edition (January 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977322122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977322121
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,795,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim, the editor of this interfaith Haggadah, has had an interesting spiritual journey. Raised by Catholic parents who "had a life-long fascination with Buddhism," she married into Judaism and has hosted dozens of Seders "attended by friends of all religions and spiritual beliefs" (p. 69). So she's uniquely qualified to put together this Haggadah which, while remaining loyal to the richness of Jewish spirituality and the particularity of the Passover celebration, also speaks to equally rich spiritual and psychological strengths of the various Buddhist-inspired traditions. In fact, this Haggadah stretches even farther. Many of its prayers, particularly those invoking the Ayn Sof, seem inspired by Kabbalah, and in an alternative set of Ma Nishtana (The Four Questions), Pearce-Glassheim explicitly invites humanists, non-Jews, and Buddhists into the Seder (pp. 26-39).

Pearce-Glassheim notes at the beginning of her book (pp. 2-3) that the Buddhist tradition has always blended into local culture, and that it's a comfortable fit with Judaism. The Haggadah, or Telling, is a reliving of the drama of liberation. So it's entirely appropriate that the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, which offer a liberation from suffering, be part of the ritual (p. 12); that Genshe Langri Thangpa's "Eight Verses for Training the Mind," guides for liberating ourselves from illusion, be chanted (pp. 12-13); that the Buddha's teaching on will power be related to the ancient Hebrews' determination to be free (pp. 43-44); and that the Haggadah conclude with an invocation of the Being that lets being be, Ayn Sof, the indwelling Presence, a prayer that Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and people of all religious faiths can embrace (pp. 60-61).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Judeth T. Newham on February 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
This lovely haggadah, inspired by the Santa Cruz Haggadah and adroitly edited by Elizabeth Pearce-Glassheim, made for a very emotional "telling" in our home last year.
The editor and those who contributed, have managed to faithfully weave the two traditions together without loss of necessary detail, ritual or richness.
Even to the casual eye, great care has been taken to assure that Jewish tradition flows naturally through the landscape of Buddhist belief, enhancing, not detracting.
For the reader looking for a way to engage and include a wide variety of guests at the Seder table, this rendering gets a big two thumbs up.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Kalman on January 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
We used the Haggadah for Jews and Buddhists last year, combined with the Internet Haggadah, a more standard approach. Surprisingly we kept coming back to the H4JB. I come from an orthodox tradition, and didn't anticipate that we'd go so non-traditional.

Our guests included, adults and children, Jews with orthodox and conservative backgrounds, Jews who had converted, and non-Jews. The message in this haggadah is universal, and touched everyone. Yet it maintains the structure and spirit of the traditional seder. It was one of our best sedarim ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DJ Clawson on April 5, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has got to be, without a doubt, the worst Haggadah I have ever read.

Let me establish some credentials: I am a practicing religious Jew and yeshiva student. I have studied the Haggadah and its history intensely in school and outside of school. I wrote my own Haggadah this year for my family to use because I found others insufficient for our seder. In addition, I have lived in Buddhist communities in India and Nepal doing charity work. I have stayed in a Tibetan nunnery and met the Dalai Lama privately. I am not a Buddhist practitioner but I am familiar with at least some of the basics. If that's not enough for you, I don't know what else I could actually add to my resume here.

(1) The Haggadah makes the most basic mistakes in the ordering of the seder. "Seder" means "order." The ORDER of events is so important that we actually sing a song about it at the beginning of the seder, a song which is included in the book. Yet somehow the introduction and the actual text make several mistakes in the order of blessings. The candle lighting is in the wrong place. The third cup of wine is in the wrong place. Even if you just read the Wikipedia page on the Haggadah you would know these things.

(2) Misquotes! Quotes from rabbis and Buddhist teachers are taken wildly out of context. Taoist clip art is used to highly the Four Noble Truths. What, could you not find an image of the 8-spoked wheel somewhere on the internet and shrink it?

(3) Inconsistent editing. The editor says you can chose any word you want for G-d's name and substitute it in for the blessings. She chooses one to use for blessings early in the book (Shehkina - which is ... bizarre) and then goes back to Ad-nai later in the book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on August 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Let me begin by saying that I although am neither a Buddhist nor an agnostic Jew, I did find this haggadah interesting, even if it does not fit my own theology. While I do practice certain forms of meditation, I am also a theist for whom ritual is not, in the words of this haggadah's author, "inherently meaningless" (p. xvi). Using the Four Sons analogy of this Haggadah, I am "the Traditionalist." I believe in a transcendant, caring God who is more than pantheistic "energy," and I do not relate very well to existentialism. Ritual, as I have often said, is the grammar of mysticism. It is through our ceremonies that we give earthly forms to our other-dimensional spiritual experiences. As a form of mystical grammar, ritual has specific rules for how it is to be constructed. One can take certain liberties with ritual, as with grammar. But stray too far, and the ceremony becomes gibberish.

This alternative haggadah does a reasonably good job (far better than many!) of staying within the halachic structure of the Passover Seder, while also exploring its own agendas with intelligence and sensitivity. All of the basic elements of a Seder are there, even if the language is far from traditional. Although I would not use it for the actual celebration, there are sections that can serve as discussion jump-off points or supplementary readings. It was interesting to see how the author handled various aspects of the Exodus story without the miracles and other "dualisms" of a transcendant God (in which Buddhists do not believe.) The focus was placed more on historical liberation movements, and inner liberation from the various "pharoahs" that oppress us.
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