This would be a good time to draw folks’ attention to the Open Source Haggadah project. It’s not as robust a database as it could be, but it’s a nice idea. You click on all the different aspects of the seder (kadesh, urchatz, etc etc) and can then, from each component (say, Kadesh), “design” your own haggadah, adding scripture, translation, commentary, songs, etc. from feminist, Kabbalistic, interfaith, Orthodox, etc. etc. sources. If nothing else, it’ll start giving you a sense of what kinds of seders a person could design, and perhaps be the springboard for inspiration to go add and riff from every other kind of source you can imagine. Google is your friend! I’ve never googled “feminist seder” or “social justice seder”, etc., but I have no doubt that tons of things that folks have already done, fantastic ideas, sources, etc. will come up.

Or find a hevruta (study partner) or two and brainstorm a little, jam on the possibilities for where a seder could go and use the ideas that are the most exciting. Interactive 10 plagues for the kids? Want to center the discussion on Darfur or sex trafficking? Want the entire journey to be internal? Go for it. I know one rabbi who, one year, did a switcheroo thing, so they read through the haggadah in English, but everytime it said “God,” they said “absolute being,” everytime it said “Egypt,” they said “the narrow place,” etc etc. THere were substitutions for Moshe, Pharoah, all the main characters. I wasn’t there, but I heard that it turned out to be a pretty cool experience. Sky is truly the limit on this one.

Then again, I’ve also had great seders where we just went leisurely through the haggadah and discussed whatever points of Torah seemed to present themselves as we went. There were plenty of questions to ask just on the standard text, and fancy bells and whistles weren’t necessary. Those can be some of the deepest and most meaningful seders, so don’t feel like you need a gimmick. (I confess that this is my general leaning–to take one’s time with the traditional haggadah and to trust that the people coming will have smart and interesting things to say about it. I’m not adverse to more creative takes, though, either.)

If it’s important for you to be yotzei (discharged of the mitzvah), make sure you hit all the important stuff, but there’s so much room within the seder ritual itself to be yotzei and to put a lot of yourself in there as well.

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