A Growing Haggadah (2019)

New edition available for download

With Avigail’s edi­to­r­i­al involve­ment, the longer fal­low peri­ods between edi­tions of this Hag­gadah have short­ened. The pre­vi­ous print­ed edi­tion is only 2 years old. Before that, they were fur­ther years apart. While I remain fair­ly sat­is­fied, I am not com­pla­cent. I made many changes fol­low­ing Seder 5751 when Avi­gail and I vis­it­ed Reed to see if she want­ed to study there. The 2005 changes (though small) were sig­nif­i­cant and were at her insti­ga­tion. Avi­gail men­tioned at the end of Seder in 2009 that the time for a new edi­tion had arrived and she want­ed to help edit it (2010 edi­tion) and then the two of us reworked the text in 2015 and updat­ed it for gen­der ambi­gu­i­ty in 2016 which has been increased for the 2019 edi­tion). In recog­ni­tion of this, and her full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the task (both in writ­ing, edit­ing and mak­ing oth­er, often struc­tur­al sug­ges­tions), her name appears on the cov­er.

This is now a three-gen­er­a­tion Hag­gadah. I brought the box­es Jay had labeled “Passover” and “Hag­gadah” to Poway from Los Ange­les in 1989, a year after our return to Cal­i­for­nia. In those box­es were Hag­gadot and oth­er mate­ri­als Dad had col­lect­ed begin­ning in the ear­ly ’50s. Some of those tid­bits found their way into this Hag­gadah. This text has moved on. Dad’s gar­den was extreme­ly fer­tile; his pres­ence still hov­ers over this Hag­gadah. Actu­al­ly, it might nev­er have exist­ed were it not for the “HHH” (Hurvitz’s Human­ist Hag­gadah). When I last skimmed that work (now many years back) I noticed lit­tle of it still appar­ent in this one (at this point, hard­ly even the Neertza, though I have restored some of the “bit­ter­ness” he expe­ri­enced). Mom’s last type­script of Dad’s final edi­tion is dat­ed 1968, more than fifty years ago!

When I first start­ed the project in this form (a “fam­i­ly” rather than a “com­mu­ni­ty” Hag­gadah) Anne was a lit­tle girl and the only child reg­u­lar­ly at the Seder. My approach was to adults. Anne now returns to her fam­i­ly Seder as an adult. Avi­gail, Noam, and Nora are adults and more than old enough to ask the four ques­tions (a new gen­er­a­tion has begun to take their place). This year, Avi­gail will host our Seder where Nora will join us, Noam and his fam­i­ly will be in Cincin­nati with a dif­fer­ent clus­ter. Avi­gail con­tributed a cinquain which she wrote dur­ing Seder in 1991. In 1998, as I did the paste-up she asked if she could help. Both she and Noam past­ed in most of the graph­ics that year. A grow­ing Hag­gadah con­tin­ues to grow in dif­fer­ent ways. In 2016 I pro­duced “My Very Own Grow­ing Hag­gadah” which con­sists almost entire­ly of indi­vid­ual pages with the head­ing from the medieval table of con­tents fol­lowed by a text such as: “What words, shapes, col­ors, and sounds do you imag­ine when you think of bring­ing peo­ple togeth­er?” and “What words, shapes, colors,to and sounds do you imag­ine when the Matzah breaks?” By now and for many years, since the entire Hag­gadah is on the com­put­er, I’ve done all final edit­ing myself. Avi­gail and Noam now ask dif­fer­ent ques­tions that grow out of the text. Many of the new changes are respons­es to them. A num­ber of years ago Noam arranged for an ISB­Num­ber which I had hoped might facil­i­tate dis­tri­b­u­tion. Avi­gail used this text as the basis for a Hag­gadah used by stu­dents at Reed in 2003 and Noam used it as the basis for a dif­fer­ent Hag­gadah at Hamp­shire when he stud­ied there. Most of the new mate­r­i­al in the 2019 edi­tion appears in a rewrit­ing of the fourth cup… the cup of accep­tance. I deeply appre­ci­ate the thought­ful respons­es to the ideas pre­sent­ed there sought from and offered by Jay and Yoav Schae­fer.

Why matzah?

The traditional explanation goes like this:

Matzah is the sym­bol of the “bread of pover­ty,” that is, the bread that poor peo­ple eat, which our ances­tors ate as slaves in Egypt. It reminds us of the great haste in which our Israelite ances­tors fled from Egypt. So lit­tle time did our ances­tors have to pre­pare food for their escape, that they baked unleav­ened cakes of the dough they had brought out of Egypt.

Does Matzah Grow?

When we lived in Poway, CA, I saw some­thing that looked as though matzah grew out of the side of a tree.

Rabbi Meir ben Tzipporah v’Nechemia haLevi teaches:

Judith came in from the fields where it appeared as though the whole com­mu­ni­ty was out har­vest­ing the new grain crop. The rains had ceased and the ground had dried enough to enable them to walk through the plants and col­lect the ripened sheaves. The stone house still felt damp from the win­ter and she helped her moth­er emp­ty the stor­age urns of the remain­der of the pre­vi­ous year’s grains.

The mois­ture had got­ten into every­thing. They rec­og­nized the aro­ma of slow­ly fer­ment­ing wheat and bar­ley and they did not want the old to con­t­a­m­i­nate the new. Judith’s moth­er even took the lit­tle wad of dough she always removed after knead­ing to put in a cool cov­ered pot to help the next batch rise and added that also to the pile to take out and burn. They were so care­ful that after sweep­ing the stone floor with the palm fronds they took feath­ers and swept out the cor­ners.

Judith thought about how the Chametz puffed up the bread she liked so much, yet con­sid­ered how a sim­i­lar spoilage often puffed her up with pride. She always felt cleansed as she warmed her hands with the heat of the burn­ing Chametz. Both because it remind­ed her of the escape from slav­ery to free­dom, the beau­ty of puri­ty and sim­plic­i­ty and because she knew it would only take a week for her moth­er to cre­ate a new starter, Judith didn’t mind eat­ing the Matzah her moth­er would make with the brand new dough.

a matzah button?!

There are a few but­tons pro­duced for Pesach. Almost all of them are nov­el­ty items. Oth­ers use the ideas of the hol­i­day to make a polit­i­cal point. I’ve writ­ten about some of the polit­i­cal but­tons in the past. This but­ton usu­al­ly draws con­ster­na­tion. It’s a bit hard to dis­cern the image and its intent.

Shmurah Matzah
Shmu­rah Matzah
Size: 5.715
Pin Form:clasp
Print Method:cel­lu­loid

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point, they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see most of the but­tons shared to date.

strengthen our covenantal relationships



Mish­neh Torah, Bless­ings 10:16; based on Gen­e­sis 9:11

May we strength­en our covenan­tal rela­tion­ships
as we reflect and rein­force
the love of a car­ing uni­verse.


Linoleum cut pro­duced by Mark, August 2018
©Mark Hurvitz

last year’s card

the sep­a­rate cuts

the list of cards


keep those cards coming

chang­ing tech­nolo­gies

orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished Octo­ber 2011; updat­ed August 2018

Most peo­ple who know me under­stand that I am not averse to tech­no­log­i­cal change. I have been inter­ested in how com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies have been used and changed for many years. In June of 2010, I wrote about my involve­ment in the devel­op­ment of what I called “the elec­tronic leaflet”. When I was in […]

Did you go to the Purim Concert?

Purim: Megilla Read­ings, Balls and Con­certs (oh my; so many options)

As long ago as 1864, New York Jews attend­ed Purim Balls, a tra­di­tion now main­tained for the past 32 years at The Jew­ish Muse­um. And, not only in New York, but also Bev­er­ly Hills, CA, Min­neapo­lis, MN and Akron, OH where young women are pre­sent­ed as […]

Be Happy, It's Adar! (again)

On 15 Feb­ru­ary, 2018, in hon­or of Rosh Ḥodesh Adar 5778:

The Hebrew text around the edge says: MiShenich­nas Adar Mar­bim BeS­im­cha(When Adar Comes, Joy Is Increased)
משניכנס אדר מרבין בשימחה


4.4 cm

Pin Form:

Print Method:

On 23 Feb­ru­ary, 2009, in hon­or of Rosh Ḥodesh Adar 5769:

The Hebrew text around the edge says: MiShenich­nas Adar Mar­bim BeS­im­cha(When Adar Comes, […]

Let's all do the al chet (1)

[A slight vari­ant of this page appears here 10 times. In each the text remains essen­tial­ly the same. How­ev­er, I will add a link to a new “sur­vey” each time.]

I have writ­ten else­where, that I came to the rab­binate out of “poli­ty” not “piety”. My involve­ment was as a com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er.

Nonethe­less, I recall sit­ting one Yom Kip­pur day in the late […]

Fake News vs. Truth a case of Goliath vs. David

Is Fake News vs. Truth a case of Goliath vs. David?
Once we knew one truth

Over forty years ago, Rab­bi Richard N. Levy wrote a para­graph that entered the Gates of Prayer Sid­dur. I quot­ed from it in a ser­mon dur­ing the Clin­ton impeach­ment hear­ings that dealt with “what is truth”.

Once we learned one truth, and it was cher­ished or […]

Jews and Campaign Buttons: A Time-Honored Tradition

a selec­tion of Jew­­ish-themed cam­paign but­tons 1940–2016

A briefer ver­sion of this blog post, with few­er illus­tra­tions, was pub­lished as “Ten Min­utes of Torah” on Octo­ber 27, 2016 on ReformJudaism.org.

Strangers don’t often inter­act on New York’s streets. Yet, this elec­tion sea­son, I am often stopped and asked about my polit­i­cal lapel but­ton.

Gen­er­al­ly, I have found that […]

may our cups overflow

Psalm 23:5b

May our efforts in the New Yearover­flow with good­nes­sand help cre­ate a world of whole­ness and peace.


Linoleum cut pro­duced by Mark, Sep­tem­ber 2014
The “cup” is brown, “over­flow” is in shades of blue.


through a sea of sound

Shab­bat Shi­rah usu­al­ly marks the begin­ning of Jew­ish Music Month. How­ev­er, I’ve not seen any ref­er­ence to it this year. Nonethe­less, it is appro­pri­ate that this week marks the cel­e­bra­tion of a sig­nif­i­cant anniver­sary in Amer­i­can Jew­ish music.

from חזן to opera star

The fam­i­ly in which I grew up was (to put it mild­ly) not […]