A haggadah is a prayerbook specifically for the Pesach Sedar.

Haggadahs come in many different "flavors". Some are written specifically for children. Some are written for Interfaith celebrations of freedom from slavery. There are certain component that are part of almost all haggadahs:

  • the general order of the components
  • 4 times the prayer over wine is said (and theoretically at least 4 cups of wine or grape juice are drunk)
  • the story of the Exodus
  • the tale of the 4 sons, or 4 attitudes toward the story of the Exodus
  • prayers and an explanation of the symbolism of the items on the sedar plate
  • the 4 questions about the special things done for the holiday
  • a time for the meal or feast
  • after dinner songs
  • the search for the afikomen
  • final prayers

The most famous haggadah may be the Sarajevo Haggadah. A partially fictionalized account of this real book was told in the novel, People of the Book. It is an illustrated, hand written and illuminated version. There are some other, less well known haggadahs that still exist from before the printing press. Some are in museums, and some are available in libraries. Another well known version of the Haggadah is the "Maxwell House" one. For decades, the Maxwell House coffee company has published and freely distributed this version. Many families who could not afford copies of a haggadah for participants in their Sedar have used it, and for many it is now a nostalgic part of the holiday.

See also

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