Rabbi Sam Reinstein, spiritual leader of the Modern Orthodox Congregation Kol Israel in Brownstone, Brooklyn, just published The Haggadah about Nothing, featuring commentary and parody connecting the Haggadah, the Exodus story, and other Jewish texts to the nine seasons of the seminal show, “Seinfeld.”
Rabbi Reinstein, who works full time as an actuary during the week, proves once and for all that actuaries do have a sense of humor. You might be thinking, “What’s the deal with a Seinfeld Haggadah?” What do Seinfeld and Pesach have in common? Surprisingly, according to Rabbi Reinstein, a whole lot.
The Haggadah presents the full Hebrew text, surrounded by commentary connecting it to Seinfeld, with lots of Seinfeld references in the translation, and illustrations connecting Seinfeld to the Haggadah.
Martin M. Bodek commented in the Amazon review section (he gave it 5 stars): “It is spiritually deeper than I thought it would be; it is quite light on the mockery side of things, and leans much more heavily towards lesson-learning erudition (hint: in life, do the opposite of what all the characters are doing); it interweaves sly Seinfeld-ian references at every turn available in the Haggadah text translation; it leaves the Haggadah text intact so that it may be used for the actual seder. This all means, to paraphrase George: this thing’s like an onion, the more you peel it the more it shines.”
So we decided to take this opportunity and explore what other zany, Jewish American Haggadahs are available on Amazon. We were not disappointed.
New Yorker and NY Times satirist Dave Cowen’s The Biden-Harris Haggadah: Thank G-D! is not nearly as harmless. The author of “The Trump Passover Haggadah” and “The Yada Yada Haggadah,” moves with the political times with his depiction of the Jewish Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff leading the Yom Tov Candle ceremony, Bernie Sanders making sure the moderates give the afflicted 99% a piece of the “poor man’s bread,” and President Joe Biden struggling to get through the text without losing his focus.
Then there’s the 30 Minute Seder, written for the “contemporary Jewish American family,” and telling “the wonderful story of Passover in a way that even non-Jewish participants can follow.” The author, Robert Kopman, born and raised in Brooklyn, is an active member of the Scottsdale, Arizona Jewish community.
A reviewer named RJ wrote: “I was disappointed in this Haggadah. I was hoping it would tell the Passover story in a shortened but still interesting way. My kids, aged 10-31, thought it was really boring! After a few pages, we pulled out our old Hagaddahs and just skipped around to keep everyone’s attention.”
And SoozyQ wrote: “The VERY BEST thing about this Haggadah was that it is available in Braille!! Our 38-year-old daughter (blind since childhood) could finally read along and participate.”
The Superhero Haggadah is the brainchild of Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg, the spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, who teaches Judaic Studies at SAR Academy in Riverdale. His Superhero Haggadah deals with issues such as, how is the Passover Seder plate like a time machine? What makes a true superhero? And is guilt actually a Jewish superpower?
Reviewer J. Burton wrote: “I just read through the entire Superhero Haggadah today. No spoilers, but the author effectively uses stories from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Captain America, Captain Marvel, the Hulk, Time Travel, etc. to expand upon themes in the Passover story and introduce it to an audience that may be more familiar with the MCU than we are with rabbinic commentary on the text. + there’s an amazing rendition of Avengers Assemble/Chad Gadya.”
The Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel from Koren Publishers was conceived and written by Batman comics creator and Jewish cartoonist Jordan B. Gorf Gorfinkel and illustrated by Israeli artist Erez Zadok.
Reviewer M. J. Ser wrote: “Amazing! We have a LOT of Haggadot. And I’m a Jewish Educator. This is the first one that my children (12, 9, 3) have picked up on their own and asked to read before Passover. The quality of the text is fantastic (Koren, complete and traditional, beautifully printed Hebrew), and every single word is transliterated, which helps guests and family members who do not read Hebrew. The English translation is presented in complete graphic novel form, with amazing artwork and attention to detail. I absolutely love that the images are multi-gendered and multi-ethnic. The directions are given clearly and in a very gentle, non-patronizing way! If you don’t know when to pick up or put down or refill your cup, for example, the guide is gentle and thorough.”
The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah, also by Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg, who believes that Harry Potter and Passover share almost everything, from the concepts of slavery and freedom to the focus on education, to the number four. He recommends: “Enchant your guests with lessons from the magical realms of Hogwarts and Jewish tradition. Foster conversation with student responses to Seder questions. And learn the ultimate lesson: Holiness can be found everywhere if you know where to look.”
Finally, A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices, by Mishael Zion & Noam Zion, with stunning illustrations by Michel Kichka. It’s a full traditional Haggadah, offering commentaries from scholars and rabbis, mostly late 20th century, but also from novelists, poets, and political leaders. This Haggadah is for the family that wants to enhance their seder by bringing in ideas that will make the evening rich and thought-provoking. Many items for younger and older children are sprinkled throughout the book.
But reviewer Libby Cone commented: “Not great if you’re having Gentile or politically conservative guests. A friend recommended this Haggadah to me and I eagerly ordered ten copies. My husband is inviting his pastor and the pastor’s family to the seder. I began to look through the pages and found myself thinking ‘uh-oh.’ If I just invited my own lefty friends it would be fine, but an illustration showing a woman demonstrating for abortion rights is unsettling. I certainly support abortion rights, but I don’t know if I want to have an argument about it at the seder table. An illustration portraying the Jews’ various enemies shows an awful lot of people carrying crosses. While I have no argument with the fact that many Christians persecuted Jews, I wonder if this illustration would lead to meaningful discussion, or just make Gentile guests uncomfortable.”