Le haggadah nouveau est arrivée!
March 29, 2004
My practice of Jewish ritualcraft began a decade ago when I became involved with the Williams College Feminist Seder. Every year, a group of college students crafted a new haggadah. We had wonderful conversations and arguments about the purpose of the seder, the purpose of feminism, how Judaism and feminism intersect. We wrote some terrific variations on familiar prayers and songs. We learned from each other, and sometimes surprised ourselves.
Admittedly, some of what we wrote wasn't great. We had so much to say -- more than we could easily fit in the haggadah's pages. And we were so familiar with academic writing (and so unfamiliar with the work of writing new prayers) that our haggadot sometimes read more like term papers than like liturgy a community could use. But the process was priceless: it taught me how deeply fulfilling engaging with Judaism can be, and how much more "mine" the holidays feel when I study them, learn about them, and reshape my observance with my own two hands.
Passover is still my favorite holiday for ritualcraft. The haggadah is fertile ground, and every year I develop a new Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Pesach, which I use to lead seder, usually one night for my sister and her family in Boston, and another night for my chosen-family-of-friends here in western Mass. Over the last few years, I've shared the haggadah with friends and colleagues; it has been used in Georgia and Montana, California and Kansas.
My haggadah collects poems and prayers from a variety of sources, along with readings I wrote myself. Some of it is traditional; some of it is not. Some of it has been published elsewhere (like the meditation on washing the hands, which I wrote for The Women's Seder Sourcebook, published last year by Jewish Lights). Every year it grows in new ways, based on new things I have learned, lacks I perceived while leading seder the year before, and suggestions from family and friends.
If any of you would like a copy, let me know; I can email it to you in .pdf format. This is a labor of love, not a for-profit endeavor; I am happy to offer the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, in hopes that they will bring others joy at this, my favorite, season.
2015 Edited to add: you can always find the most up-to-date version of the VR Haggadah by going to velveteenrabbi.com and clicking through to the haggadah page.