Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Preparing for Passover – A Haggadah for Today

Bill Simon and Deborah Brooks reading from last year’s Haggadah on mindfullness, written by Bob Wolfe

The Haggadah is integral to the Passover Seder — it literally means “telling,” which is the purpose of the Passover seder: to tell the story of how God helped the Jews escape from slavery in Egypt.  Like many American Jews, Bob Wolfe grew up with the Maxwell House Haggadah, an old-fashioned, Americanized recitation of the Hebrew prayers transliterated for Reform American Jews and published by the coffee company to assure Jews they could drink coffee during Passover.  (You can read more about that in Eater LA’s post.)

Wolfe, who recently retired as a staff attorney for the Court of Appeals in Santa Ana, told us he has always loved Passover.

“Passover is focused around food, it’s at your home, and it’s one of the rare holidays where we explain the reason for doing things…maybe not always the right reason, but it’s explained,” said Wolfe.

But he said he always felt the Haggadah from his childhood didn’t match up with the greatness of the holiday. Then, on a trip to Israel in the 1970s, Wolfe discovered a Zionist Haggadah that included much more than the Hebrew prayers.

“There was poetry, writings about the spring…it was wonderful,” explained Wolfe.

He bought 15 copies and started using it for his own seders. And then he also got inspired to create a Haggadah of his own, which was no easy feat in those days. Wolfe explained that would copy and paste sections, then he’d change the ball on his IBM Selectric typewriter so he could type in both Hebrew and English.  And then, once it was assembled, he’d have to Xerox the final document to share it with people.  But, now, using computers and the internet, Wolfe searches for interesting readings and easily assembles a PDF that he can share with family and friends (and Buzz readers).

“It’s opened a whole new world,” said Wolfe, who has generously shared Haggadot he has created over the last several years.

“I am a compiler. I get more out doing the Haggadah and I love sharing with people. I hope it goes viral, if that’s still a good thing,” joked Wolfe, who added that he tries to make the Haggadah accessible for various ranges of religious experience, and not too long. He even includes links to music so everyone can sing along.

Each year, the Hebrew prayers are essentially the same, but Wolfe adds readings that reflects different  themes he’s experimented with over the years. In 2002, a palindromic year (reads the same backwards as it does forward), Wolfe focused on Hebrew words that were palindromes.

“It was a real challenge, but it was fun,” said Wolfe. “But, it didn’t really have staying power.”

This year, Wolfe chose the theme of vision, but adjusted his focus for the current pandemic, because what we are physically seeing is limited by the fact that we are staying in our homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The most important message, for this year, is that we are not alone,” Wolfe said. “Even though we might feel like we are alone, we are not alone.”

“The Haggadah readings deal with it in a variety of ways,” he explained. “First, we are not alone because of God, the concept of something above and beyond us that’s transcendent and can bring out the best in us, which can be a comfort to some…but to others it won’t have any meaning at all.”

“Second, the readings explore how we are part of a community where we have a sense of history, whether it’s a peoplehood (like the Jews) or humanity. We have gone through things that are worse and I think those things can be of comfort at this time,” said Wolfe.

Thanks to Bob Wolfe for sharing his Haggahdot with us and Happy Passover!

Please click here to read Wolfe’s 2020 Haggadah and here for the music. If you want to check out his other Haggadot, please see the following links.

2014 Haggadah Speaking Freely
2015 Wow Palindromic Haggadah
2016 Carbon Free Haggadah
2017 State of Wanderer Haggadah
2018 Harden Heart Haggadah
2019 Mind Your Steps Haggadah 



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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. Patty,
    Thanks for this article on Bob Wolfe and his Haggadah; we’ve been using it for years; it gets better every year.


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