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The Family (and Frog!) Haggadah Paperback – February 15, 2017
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A haggadah is a guidebook for holding a seder, the festive meal associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Like any traditional haggadah, this volume reads left to right (Hebrew style). The text is in English, with prayers and songs in both Hebrew and transliteration.
This family haggadah has activities, fun facts, and a humorous cartoon frog to engage young seder participants while providing lucidly written, thorough text for more advanced readers. The 'Think About'prompts are well designed for encouraging inter-generational discussion. There are several nice touches, such as suggestions for vegetarian seder plate options (for example, substituting a beet for the bone), the inclusion of Miriam's cup along with Elijah's cup, and the replacement of the traditional, somewhat judgmental 'wicked' and 'simple' sons with gender-neutral 'defiant' and 'uncomplicated' children.
The art features well-composed photographs of contemporary seder participants, reproductions of Passover art through the ages, and clear photos of ceremonial objects (seder plate, wine cup). It should be noted that no Jews of color are portrayed. A painting of African American enslaved people accompanies the lyrics of Let My People Go, a spiritual that describes the biblical events of Passover, but without context it is somewhat out of place. --School Library Journal
This innovative Haggadah stars Frog (yes, he of the plague). The traditional text is peppered with Frog s mischievous contributions and complaints. In a play on the word seder, which means order, Frog asks, Hey, can we change the seder of the seder and sing first? Frog helps us search for chametz as well as burn it safely.
There are lively games and provocative topics for discussion. Hopefully, players of all ages will survive the challenging game of Hot Matzah Ball. The Haggadah juxtaposes Jackie Urbanovic s playful frog art with historical illustrations such as Passover Cleaning from the 1320 Golden Haggadah and a 1901 framed souvenir from the Fifth Zionist Congress. --Gloria Goldreich, Hadassah Magazine
The frog in this Haggadah has a clear-cut case of ADHD but one that is entertaining and makes for lighthearted fun. The Family (and Frog!) Haggadah, published in February by Springfield-based Behrman House, is not a pediatric version of the Haggadah, but rather one that children, and bored adults, can enjoy at the seder.
The text is mostly in English, with blessings and songs in Hebrew; transliteration and translation are supplied. It was written by Rabbi Ron Isaacs, author of more than 100 books.
Frog, a 5-year-old cartoon character developed by New Jersey children s author and ventriloquist Karen Rostoker-Gruber, jumps onto every spread with silly puns, quips, and questions. He gets distracted by flies that turn out to be locusts (think the ten Plagues). And he d like more grape juice, please.
But Frog also supplies background on traditions like the information that reclining at the table was in ancient times considered a sign of royalty and expresses our freedom. Frog encourages an interactive seder, with Try This! boxes scattered throughout the pages that include little tidbits to spark interest. For example, Take turns passing around a mirror, and have participants look into it and visualize themselves as a slave.
In Frog s Haggadah, the structure of the seder is intact, but lightened. Greatest hits are shortened. Dayeinu, for example, finishes in three verses; required sections are often shrunk to a minimum, so don t look for a full Birkat Hamazon, or even the common short form this one is very abbreviated (one paragraph). You won t find the section on the rabbis arguing all night in B nei Brak either except in a Did you know? box.
There s no commentary here. That kind of depth is, well, out of Frog s reach.
But there are enough extras and suggestions that this Haggadah provides for the makings of a lively seder, and a leader can add depth with extra readings. --New Jersey Jewish News
About the Author
Karen Rostoker-Gruber is an award-winning children's book author and humorist. Her book Farmer Kobi s Hanukkah Match (with coauthor Rabbi Ron Isaacs) was a 2015 National Jewish Book Award Finalist. Karen, who lives in New Jersey, is also a ventriloquist and performs with Maria, her puppet, in schools and libraries.
Rabbi Ron Isaacs is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and the interim rabbi of Beth Judah Temple in Wildwood, New Jersey. During the week he is a music therapist for Stein Hospice, where he sings and plays guitar for patients. He is the first rabbi in New Jersey to receive the United Synagogue s Keter Torah award for outstanding lifetime achievement and rabbinical excellence.
Jackie Urbanovic is an author and illustrator of books for children. Her books include Prince of a Frog and Duck at the Door, the first in her New York Times bestselling Max the duck series. She is an avid reader, book collector, and flea market junkie. She has always lived with dogs, cats, and birds, and she loves walking in the woods with her sweet pup, Nick.
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(NOTE: We have yet to lead a seder with this...we'll be doing that this weekend when we host. If my opinion of the book changes, I'll come back to update this.)