the new american haggadah

Lemony Snicket's Commentary in 'The New American Haggadah'

On ‘The Four Sons’:

Some scholars believe there are four kinds of parents as well.

The Wise Parent is an utter bore. “Listen closely, because you are younger than I am,” says the Wise Parent, “and I will go on and on about Jewish history, based on some foggy memories of my own religious upbringing, as well as an article in a Jewish journal I have recently skimmed.” The Wise Parent must be faced with a small smile of dim interest.

The Wicked Parent tries to cram the story of our liberation into a set of narrow opinions about the world. “The Lord let us out of Egypt,” the Wicked Parent says, “which is why I support a bloodthirsty foreign policy and I’m tired of certain types of people causing problems.” The Wicked Parent should be told with a firm voice: “With a strong hand God rescued the Jews from bondage, but it was my own clumsy hand that spilled hot soup in your lap.”

The Simple Parent does not grasp the concept of freedom. “There will be no macaroons until you eat all of your brisket,” says the Simple Parent at a dinner honoring the liberation of oppressed peoples. “Also, stop slouching at the table.” In answer to such statements, the Wise Child will roll his eyes in the direction of the ceiling and declare: “Let my people go.”

The Parent Who Is Unable to Inquire has had too much wine and should be excused from the table.

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Out of all the traditional Jewish documents, it’s the one that’s most living. There’s an Armed Forces Haggadah and an Alcoholics Anonymous Haggadah and an LGBT Haggadah. Some people make a new Haggadah every year. It’s a real living document. … They’re just constantly made throughout time. On the decision to translate it? It was really clear when I went back and looked at texts. I’;ve always used the Hebrew side of the Maxwell House [Haggadah], which is a really great liturgy. The point is, I had never really looked at the English. And what committed me to it [was that] you should literally read the Haggadah and weep. It is so beautiful. It is just such a moving document to me.
—  Writer Nathan Englander tells Terry Gross why he wanted to translate the New American Haggadah. (The Haggadah is the traditional story of Passover)