The Heroes Haggadah: Lead the Way to Freedom by Kerry Olitzky, Deborah Bodin Cohen

The Heroes Haggadah: Lead the Way to Freedom by Kerry Olitzky, Deborah Bodin Cohen

In The Heroes Haggadah: Lead the Way to Freedom, the traditional texts and songs of a 30-45 minute Passover Seder are paired with profiles of 46 influential and diverse Jewish people in fields ranging from pop culture to science, art, and political activism, whose biographies add to the heroic and enduring story of freedom that began with the ancient Exodus.

More than any other Jewish book, the traditional haggadah is continually renewed and rewritten. In this haggadah, each traditional section is also connected to a particular theme, such as commitment, sustainability, hope, activism, perseverance, gratitude, and rejuvenation. Each theme is reflected in the profile of a modern hero as well as in quotes and interpretive English translations of traditional Hebrew blessings, capturing how human heroes partner with God to better our world.

Profiles include: Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Israeli activist Anat Hoffman, one of the founders of Women of the Wall; Polish resistance fighter Tuvia Bielsk; Regina Jonas, first woman to be ordained as a rabbi; Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, first Asian American Cantor and Rabbi: Helen Suzman, for years the sole member of the South African Parliament to stand against apartheid; Eliezar Ben-Yehuda, champion of the rebirth of Hebrew as a spoke language; Pnina Tamano-Shata, first Ethiopian-born woman to serve in Israel’s Knesset; Gershom Sizomu, the first native-born Black rabbi of the Abayudaya community in Uganda; Black Jewish rapper Daveed Diggs, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Short biographies of all those profiled are included in an index at the back of the haggadah. Space among the profiles is reserved for participants to include a hero from their own family or community.

The haggadah is welcoming of participants from any background and presents all prayers and blessings in Hebrew, transliteration, and English translation. Songs included are Dayeinu, Eliahu Hanavi, Echad Mi Yodea (Who Knows One), Chad Gadya, and Adir Hu, all presented in English, Hebrew, and transliterated Hebrew. A seder planning guide is provided, along with seven recipes, including a Ugandan Charoset from the Sizomu family, a West African Brisket and a Caribbean Compote, both from cookbook author Michael Twitty, and Groucho Marks’ Matzah Balls.

Year first published: 2024

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