Do-it-yourself haggadot for the digital age

In my 20s and early 30s, I loved compiling my own personal Passover haggadah. I’d browse the massive selection of haggadot at the late, lamented Cody’s Books, buy a half dozen inexpensive paperback ones, and set to work.

Snip, snip, glue, photocopy… I’d start with a traditional version, add the Frogs song from a kids’ haggadah or “Man Come Into Egypt” by Peter Paul & Mary, throw in some feminist commentary or an environmental take on the Ten Plagues and… voila! our haggadah for the year.

Then we became parents. And it felt like an achievement simply to get matzah ball soup and homemade gefilte fish on the table. Farewell to the days of rewriting the haggadah every year.

Now there’s a new, possibly easier way to compile personalized haggadot — via (of course) the Web.

Haggadot.com offers an online library of Passover-related writing and images that you can copy, arrange and edit, scrapbook-style. Then you churn out as many copies as you want, free of charge, on your printer. You can also submit your own words or pictures to become “clips” for other people to use.

Image for cover of a haggadah, from Haggadot.com

I did a quick scan of the site today and found clips that included:

Pretty cool!

The site, of course, isn’t perfect. Although you can search for clips by keyword, there doesn’t seem to be a way to search specifically for images — if, for instance, you were seeking that perfect drawing of a pyramid. Although you can focus your search on specific categories of Judaism — Orthodox, Reform, etc. — the site’s category of “secular/humanist” had no clips in it.

And a search for the keywords “Palestinians” and “Middle East” brought up no results, a shortcoming for folks who would like to incorporate readings about Israeli-Palestinian peace.

But the site is young, founded in 2007 by a graphic design student at California Institute of the Arts. It recently received a grant from the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund. I’m guessing that with time, Haggadot.com will grow — both in sophistication and in scope, as more and more people upload their own quirky, creative, personal takes on Passover.

Me? I’m not up for re-writing our haggadah this year, especially since Sam and Becca will be off visiting colleges for much of Passover week. But visiting colleges means getting close to attending college… which means getting close to the empty nest phase of life… which means I may have the time and impetus to get back into the haggadah creation biz again.

And when I do… I don’t think I’ll need that glue stick any more.

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4 Responses to “Do-it-yourself haggadot for the digital age”

  1. Judy Pace Says:

    Ilana — you answered my prayers! An easy way to liven up the seder!

  2. Janice Dean Says:

    I. Love. Haggadot! I wish I had a copy of the one created by Rabbi Wine at The Birmingham Temple, which I used growing up with my best friend and her family. As a follower of the Velveteen Rabbi’s blog, I’m sure you’ve seen the various revisions of her haggadah. Hers is currently my favorite. I might even try my hand at making my own this year on haggadot.com–perhaps it can be part of my Lenten discipline. Thanks, Ilana!

    • Ilana DeBare Says:

      If you’d like, I can email you a copy of our haggadah. It is undoubtedly less spiritual/poetic than the Velveteen Rabbi’s but might be of interest. It’s a Word doc so easy to cut and paste.

  3. Janice Dean Says:

    Haggadot.com getting a whole piece on All Things Considered right now!

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