This Rockland County Resident Revisits the Seder

The Simply Jewish Haggadah dives a little deeper into the Passover meal.


Published:

The author, Rabbi Reuven Epstein.

Photos by Peter Juricek

 

If you’re transitioning from Seder guest to Seder host this year, you’re going to want to pick up a copy of The Simply Jewish Haggadah pronto. Rabbi Reuven Epstein’s first book provides readers with a comprehensive guide to leading a successful Passover meal.

“I was inspired to write The Simply Jewish Haggadah when I learned that the best-selling Haggadah was The Thirty Minute Seder, and that it was the only Haggadah available for sale (for adults) at a local bookstore,” says Epstein. “The Seder is a wonderful opportunity to connect our heritage and our family, and it should be allotted more time than a Seinfeld episode.”

In the introduction, he explains why the Seder is more than a theatrical meal: “According to Jewish belief, time is not only linear, it is cyclical as well…The Seder is not just the night to read about the miracles that happened to our ancestors thousands of years ago, but it is also the night to re-experience the Exodus.”

Following this introduction, The Simply Jewish Haggadah essentially works backwards in its explanation of the Seder. The bulk of the book consists of a step-by-step guide to carrying out the tradition. Epstein explains the rituals, the blessings, as well as the symbolism and meaning behind them. In the following chapters, he then backtracks to cover preparation for the meal, tips for leading a memorable Seder and creating a more kid-friendly experience, as well as the origins of Passover, inspirational stories, and a resource section that includes recipes for charoset and chocolate-covered matzah.

The Simply Jewish Haggadah does an excellent job of remaining accessible without oversimplifying. Perhaps the best example of this is the “transliteration” of prayers, a phonetic recitation guide that Epstein includes, should hosts want to pray in Hebrew without speaking it. These alternative prayers appear just below the English versions, which he stresses are also perfectly acceptable.

Novice practitioners will find his book helpful, but Epstein says his book will even help lifelong celebrants find new depth in the meal’s longstanding customs.

 

The Simply Jewish Haggadah: An Illustrated, Get-To-The-Point Guide to the Passover Seder

Rabbi Reuven Epstein
K’hal Publishing (hrd)
$18.95
For more information and to purchase this book, visit this link: www.simplyjewish.com.

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