Edited in 2009 to add: this post describes an older version of the text. The latest version of the haggadah is available at velveteenrabbi.com/VRHaggadah.pdf [pdf]; in future years, new versions will have the same filename and will be located at the same URL.
"If we wait until we feel truly ready, we may never act at all." Those words appear in my haggadah for Pesach, in the paragraph preceding the blessing and eating of matzah. Every year they give me a happy little shiver. They're a useful call to action, a safeguard against letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. This year, they're nudging me into releasing my haggadah today.
Passover is my favorite holiday, bar none, and the process of creating my own haggadah is a large part of the reason why. Good liturgy is like good poetry; it requires good words and good intent, and when it works it's more than the sum of its parts. And there's no story like the Passover story: rich, powerful, endlesssly resonant. I love working on my haggadah, and then I love leading a seder with it, the words I've collected and crafted coming to life in the mouths of my friends and family.
Because I have so much fun with this thing, it's hard to declare it done for the year. I'd like to add more sheet music. I'd like to redo the whole thing in NisusWriter (I've been using Word, which requires me to type Hebrew laboriously left-to-right) so I can more easily edit the Hebrew text. But Pesach is coming up, and I want folks to have plenty of time to download and read the haggadah before deciding whether or not to use it. And, as my own text reminds me, if I wait until I feel fully ready...
The Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Pesach, version 5.0 [.pdf download]
Praise for earlier versions of the haggadah:
"It is a beautiful haggadah. Worth reading and studying and using," said Rick of Jewish Current Issues.
My friend Lorelei reported, "it's the first time I've ever heard anyone ask, 'When do we get to read more? After we eat?'"
And my friend Sandy of Number Five Looks Just Like You said the haggadah is "incredibly well-honed and interesting and real."
My endless thanks go to everyone who's helped with this project, especially the six illustrators who donated original artwork to this year's edition. Download, read, enjoy, share it far and wide. And if you have reactions, responses, questions -- if you use the haggadah, or if it inspires you to create your own -- let me know!