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2015-03-27 digital edition

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March 27, 2015  RSS feed

Text: T T T

‘Mosaic Haggadah’ rethinks Seder with thematic approach


How is this year’s Passover Seder different from all other Seders? More often than not, the answer might be, “Nothing’s different at all.” Now, there is a Haggadah that offers not one, but six possible solutions for Seder participants who are starving to mix things up.

As his children grew older and intellectual discussions became possible, David Silberman – a dentist by practice – says he was “tired of looking at the various analytical or exegetical explanations that varied from paragraph to paragraph within the Haggadah.”

Rather than continuing to slog through the same routine each year, Silberman produced the most proactive solution possible: he compiled his own Haggadah. Published last year, The Mosaic Haggadah identifies six colorcoded themes central to the Passover story – freedom, contemporary (the Haggadah as a modern story), family and community, gratitude, redemption, and Israel – and intersperses essays on those subjects throughout the traditional text, allowing users to follow one theme/ color throughout the night.

“In this manner, the topic at hand can be discussed and analyzed within the framework of the traditional Seder and hopefully remembered and internalized,” Silberman writes in the Haggadah’s introduction.

The essays include previously published writings (or speeches and quotes) by names as wellknown as David Ben-Gurion, Elie Wiesel, Maimonides, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan and Abraham Lincoln. Other essays come from lesser-known scholars, Silberman himself, media outlets, and anonymous sources.

Eight years ago, Silberman decided to incorporate contemporary sources and voices into his Passover Seder.

“My family and guests received it enthusiastically, so I knew that I had found something different, which allowed everyone to participate in lengthy conversations that went above and beyond the text itself and contributed some depth and meaning to that night,” Silberman tells

How did a dentist come to write a Haggadah? Silberman recalls that when he was 16, his father would bring him – or “perhaps drag me” – to Talmud classes in Oklahoma City. Eventually, Silberman fully embraced Talmud study and generally gravitated toward an analytical approach to texts. For the last nine years, Silberman has been leading a Talmud study group on Shabbat for both men and women at Houston’s UOS synagogue.

Silberman’s affinity for textual analysis, then, resulted in his desire to create a more meaningful Seder experience,

Silberman recommends that each family or group “conduct a Seder that’s appropriate for the guests that they have.”

Ultimately, Silberman hopes The Mosaic Haggadah is an easyto use book that makes the Seder ritual more meaningful, memorable, and modern.

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