update deskJewish & Israeli Holidays

Passover 2024

New Haggadah promises Passover seder that isn’t as ‘dull as matzah’

Known for its provocative billboards, JewBelong aims to make Passover more accessible.

JewBelong Passover Haggadah. Credit: JewBelong.
JewBelong Passover Haggadah. Credit: JewBelong.

The Jewish nonprofit JewBelong, known for its blunt and pink billboards, released a free, downloadable Passover Haggadah that contains a “blessing for anyone who isn’t Jewish” and the “10 plagues of antisemitism.”

The 40-page booklet follows the traditional order of the Passover seder with some twists in the “world’s most complicated dinner party.”

JewBelong Passover Haggadah. Credit: JewBelong.

There is no “seder police,” the Haggadah informs from the start. “Don’t play ‘Who’s the better Jew,’” it adds.

“You know that uncomfortable feeling when you’re at a seder with 18 people, and there are only four who know the words to some Hebrew song, and the rest sit there uncomfortably while they stumble through it?” it states. “We do, too. And it can make people feel like bad Jews. This is not the feeling you want to elicit at your seder. So, if you’re going to include Hebrew, make sure your guests understand it or keep it to a minimum.”

When seder participants get to the Maggid section, which tells the story of the Exodus and the holiday, the JewBelong Haggadah presents a screenplay. Pharaoh gets 15 lines, God seven lines, sheep two lines. And being set in the desert, stage directions call for “shvitzing Jews, dressed in shmatas.”

In the traditional Passover liturgy, the discussion of the 10 plagues is followed by readings of different rabbinic counts of how many plagues were inflicted upon the Egyptians at the Red Sea—50, 200 or 250.

The JewBelong Haggadah takes a different approach, offering a second set of plagues, during which it recommends that participants drink coffee. Some six months after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, it addresses what it calls the “elephant at the seder table”: Jew-hatred.

The “10 Plagues of Antisemitism” are silence; non-Jewish silence; anti-Israel; Hamas; hiding; stereotypes/scapegoating; tolerating hate; schools (Jew-hatred on campus); social media; and small-mindedness.

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