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Mashing up Passover—or why this year’s Haggadah will be different from . . .

For those of you out there who are planning a Passover seder about now, you may want to rethink digging up the old wine-stained Haggadah’s (Haggadot?) you store in the dining room hutch.  You may want to expand your traditional storytelling repertoire. And you may want to make a little space at your table for your tablet.

This year, consider retelling the story of the exodus from Egypt by remixing and mashing together a bissel oral tradition, with a bissel media, and a bissel digital publishing.

The Haggadah is perhaps a particularly fertile work for modern remix.  In the New Yorker article, A Haggadah for the Internet Age, Sasha Weiss noted:

the Haggadah is not a traditional narrative. It doesn’t engage us through the usual strategies of evocative description or heroic characters or a journey marked by obstacles: it is instead an unruly, layered, shifting text resembling a post-modern pastiche. The Haggadah was compiled over hundreds of years, and draws on a variety of sources: fragments of Biblical verse, Talmudic argumentation, folk songs, ancient prayers, and ritual instruction.

In the spirit of this history, encourages registered users to design their own Haggadah starting with a blank, traditional, or liberal template and by dragging and dropping in user-generated clips from a vast, collaboratively built Clip Library of more than 1000 unique takes on the traditional Passover Haggadah.

On their What is page, the site founders share their goals:

Passover is about freedom. But when it comes to the seder, many of us are lost. This website is a resource for Jews of all backgrounds to make the Haggadah that finally feels meaningful for a contemporary seder, with unique perspectives gathered from individuals worldwide . . .

Eventually, as the website collects more source material, the output of Haggadot will become more unique and personalized. Pieces from a Feminist Reconstructionist version may co-exist with selections from a haggadah from the 1500s. A family of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews can include both traditions in one haggadah. A family separated by distance may collaborate online to create a shared haggadah for their separate seders. Families may also access their folder over the years to track their changing history. Jews everywhere will understand that, whatever their background, they have a place at the global seder table.

If you have kids, check out such goodies as the Exodus story in Legos, Seder Bingo, Harry Potter and the Escape from Egypt and this post on the Best Clips for a Kid-Friendly Seder

Clips are linked to Haggadah sections–for instance, cover, introduction, Four Questions, Ten Plagues–and are tagged by such categories as:

Once completed, your special Haggadah may be converted into an easy-to-print PDF.

This year and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network, announced the launch of Neverending Haggadah, an ambitious project designed to build a global, online, crowd-sourced Haggadah.

Founder Eileen Levinson is reaching out to partners, friends and allies around the world to contribute to a Haggadah of reciprocity and hopes that it will fill your seders with conversations and discussions that will continue late into the night.

Need more content and ideas for your seder?

Jewish Freeware offers a wide range of Haggadot editions for download.

iTunes offers a recently released Passover Haggahah app for iPad for $6.99

And if you need a little help with those melodies, check out the audio files prepared by the Virtual Cantor, who has vocalized the entire Haggadah and offers a chart of essential excerpts as MP3 tracks.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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