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April 02, 2004 - Image 32

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-02

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The Layers Of
The Haggadah




he Haggadah, whose
name stems from the
Hebrew root he-gid (to
tell), is the text read dur-
ing the Passover seder for at least
1,000 years. The seder, itself, goes
back to the first Passover, celebrated
in Egypt.
No single author
penned the Haggadah,
which is actually a col-
lection of excerpts from
various sources inter-
spersed with rituals,
including drinking four
cups of wine and eating
"The Haggadah was
created with layers and
layers of text from the
Bible, Mishnah, Talmud
and other commen-
tary," said Rabbi Joseph
Krakoff of
Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, a Judaica collec-
tor with about 200
Haggadot. "It was cre-
ated with text added on
Rabbi Joseph Krakoff shares his Haggadah collection
through the centuries.
with sons Elan, 21 months, and Micah, 4.
"A very special
Haggadah in my collec-
"I love the Haggadah," Rabbi
tion is the Polychrome Haggadah
[edited by Rabbi Jacob Freedman] in Krakoff said. "I love the art, I love
the commentary. I like different
which every piece of text is colored
ones for different reasons."
to correspond with the different
This year, for the first time, Rabbi
time periods and the sources when it
Krakoff was able to fulfill a longtime
was added," he said of the prized
plan of teaching an in-depth, nine-
out-of-print Haggadah, a birthday
session class about the Haggadah at
gift from his wife, Susan.
Shaarey Zedek. "There are so many
"Within a section, within a prayer,
even within a sentence, the words may incredible layers to unpack," he said.
"The seder itself is one of the great-
be printed in several different colors."
Rabbi Krakoff's original interest in est teaching mechanisms out there
for learning about and understand-
the Haggadah came somewhat by
ing our people's history from the
default. "My birthday is almost
always on Passover," he said. "So
"There are things we've borrowed
ever since I was kid, I'd get a few
Haggadahs as birthday gifts. When I from different cultures and made
Jewish. The seder dinner itself is
was 13, my grandfather turned the
leading of the seder over to me and I modeled after a Roman banquet.
We lean because that's what the
began to learn how to have those at
Romans did. We just redefined it
the seder not only think about their
and made it all Jewish, authentically
stomachs, but want to really engage."
He realized the effect of using dif-


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ferent commentaries and different
Haggadot during the seder.
"Sometimes at our seder, every-
body gets a different Haggadah," he
said. "It can be quite complicated,
but it's fun and a great learning
• In addition to Haggadot received
through the years, he began adding
to the collection himself about 10
years ago.


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