I've been looking for a perfect Haggadah. As the buyer for ModernTribe.com, months ago I'd gathered a dozen samples trying to find one or two to offer to my customers. As a rule, I won't sell something I wouldn't recommend to a friend. After reviewing the samples, I chose no Haggadot to sell on ModernTribe. Harsh, huh?
But then I had to choose a Haggadah for our seder, remembering last year's choice was entirely disappointing. I again looked through my stockpile. I chose four.
As is true at many seders, our guests were diverse in age and religious backgrounds. There was me, my athiest-believing-but-Jewish-living husband, my Reform Jewish parents, my four year old daughter, and a Christian friend. Since one of the most important purposes of the seder is to pass-on the story of the Exodus to the younger generation, I tried to gear the seder simple, light, and short, as is shrewd when you are passing-on to a four year old. At the same time, I wanted the seder to be meaningful and fun for the adults as well as informative for my friend for whom this was her first seder.
It wasn't until we got to the section on the Four Sons that I realized how well the four Haggadot I'd chosen fit with each of the four "personalities" or "dispositions" discussed during the seder and, to a degree, present in each of us.
For The Wise Within Us: we used A Family Haggadah II by Shoshana Silberman. This was our grown-up Haggadah which we used to stay in "order" and gain insight and depth when needed.
For The Wicked (Funny): we had Bangitout's Seder Sidekick. The comedic interludes made the adults laugh out loud (while our daughter played with her Ten Plagues Bowling Set). We especially enjoyed the Top 10 lists in David Letterman style.
For Our Simple Sides: we read from Richard Codor's Joyous Haggadah:A Children and Family Cartoon Haggadah for Passover Seder. This comic book style Haggadah is fun and colorful. It covers all the bases but in a very basic way.
For The Child Who Doesn't Yet Know How To Ask: we had Passover by Miriam Nerlove, a nicely illustrated book that explains the seder and the Exodus for young children. My mom showed our daughter the pictures as we discussed the Exodus events.
What a wonderful: wise, wicked, simple, and illustrated seder we had! I realized that as our child grows and as our guest list changes our seder and, therefore, our idea of a "perfect" Haggadah will change. I now understand there is no one "perfect" Haggadah, instead we will have to "blend" to create our own perfect-for-us mix.
If you click on the links for the Haggadot listed here you can buy them on Amazon.com.