Holocaust educators know that some numbers are almost impossible to comprehend: six million Jews; 11 million people; 1.5 million children, 1.1 of them Jewish. But if you tell me one person’s story, then I can begin to understand.
Hans Guggenheim, a refugee from Nazi Berlin who found haven during World War II in England and Guatemala, and eventually in the United States, conducts his own seders every year in his Boston apartment that doubles as a personal art museum and extensive library.
No doubt the Haggadah is the most renewable of Jewish texts because its message of freedom from oppression is so universal, so relevant in each generation. With more than 7,000 known variations, our guide to the seder is the most translated and published of all Jewish texts.
When I saw that the new issue of The New Republic had Robert Alter reviewing a new work by Nathan Englander, I instinctively thought it’d be of Englander’s new translation of the Passover Haggadah. Given that Alter is a widely admired translator of the Hebrew Bible, it was only natural for me to assume as much.
I'll admit I did not know who Esther Broner was until she died on Monday. But I certainly knew what she is most famous for: the feminist haggadah. Though her professional life was devoted to academia--a professor of literature at Wayne State, Sarah Lawrence College and sometimes the University of Haifa--to say nothing of writing her many novels, Broner will be forever associated with feminist seders.
With the help of some new tools, do-it-yourselfers are adding personal touches to the ancient Passover story.
For decades, my extended family’s seders consisted of an abridged reading of a 1970s Haggadah that, while in English, was neither accessible nor inspiring.
Two years ago, my older daughter, then 5 and obsessed with Dreamworks’ “The Prince of Egypt,” complained that we had gone through the whole pre-dinner reading without fully telling the story of Moses and the Exodus.
Two years ago, Morgan Friedman decided to translate the Passover Haggadah into Argentinean slang — just for kicks. “All my friends loved it; they thought it was the funniest thing ever,” says Friedman, an entrepreneur from Great Neck who divides his time between the Upper East Side and Argentina.
Friedman is the founder of OverheardinNewYork.com, a blog that features snippets of conversations that range from humorous to absurd. Both projects make use of his “love of just listening to how people talk.”