One of these Hagadot should be at your Seder table this year

By Daniel Santacruz

Passover, Pesaj, Pesach, Pascua judía, Pesah, or whatever you call the holiday, is here. And at the center of it is the Seder. Besides traditional and symbolic foods, another important part of the Seder is the Haggadah.

Here are 10 hagadot from my personal collection. I suggest one should be at your Seder to enhance your Sefardic experience.

Haggadag Shel PesajLivorno, Italy.

This is one of my most precious books. Printed entirely in Ladino and Hebrew in the 1850s, it’s decorated with dozens of woodcuts. As far as I know, this is one of the few copies available in the market.

I bring it to the table to show guests, but I don’t read from it be for fear it may get damaged with food or, as it’s usually the case, someone spills wine on it.

Livorno is known in English as Leghorn and it had a thriving Jewish community.

Haggadag Shel PesajLivorno, Italy.

Printed in 1877 in Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic, this Haggadah will familiarize you with the customs and prayers of Baghdadi Jews. Few copies of this rare book exist today.

The Sarajevo Haggadah. Prosveta-Svjetlost. Beograd, Sarajevo.

I am not talking hereabout the illuminated manuscript codex from medieval Spain, kept at the National Museum in Sarejevo.

I am referring to a reproduction published by those two companies, complemented with a study written by Eugen Werber, that you can bring to the table. The study looks at the fascinating history of this illuminated manuscript, which professor Cecil Roth called “a priceless specimen of book illumination,” and analyzes all its folios.

Passover Agada/Agada de Pesah. According to the Custom of the Seattle Sephardic Community. Edited by Isaac Azose and Isaac Maimon.

Written in Hebrew, with Ladino and English translation, this attractive Haggadah includes the prayers and customs of one of the most traditional Sefardic communities in the United States.

If you have difficulty reading Hebrew, the transliteration of several prayers will be helpful. A six-page glossary of Ladino words, with English translation, found at the end of the book, will help you understand the text of the Haggadah and the songs.

Features Ehad Mi Yodea, according to the Turkish custom, and Had Gadya,  according to the Rhodes custom, as well as a transliteration of Ki Lo Na-e, Ki Lo Ya-e.

La Agada de Luz/Agada de Pesah, kon traduksion al ladino. Erez, Yerushalayim.

This large-format Haggadah, written in Ladino and Hebrew and illustrated with vignettes of medieval Haggadot, is dedicated to the millions of Jews, “among them most of the Jews from the Balkans, who were exterminated in the Shoa by the Nazis and their helpers.”

Unfortunately, writes editor Abraham Cohen, many of the Sefardic customs observed at the Seder disappeared with the annihilation of those communities. “If the publication of this volume contributes even a bit to the continuation of that culture, that will be our reward,” he added.

La Hagada Sefaradí y leyes de Pesaj. Edited by Yeshivat Nahalat Moshe. Jerusalem.

The practical guidelines for measurements of foods eaten at the Seder and for cleaning utensils for the holiday make this Hagaddah a useful resource. No commentators are cited. 

Includes Shir Hashirim (The Song of Songs), which is said by some communities after the conclusion of the Seder, as well as Ehad Mi Yodea and Had Gadya. It also features a four-page practical glossary of Passover-related terms.

The Sephardic Heritage Haggadah. Edited by Rabbi Eli Mansour and Rabbi David Sutton. Artscroll, Brooklyn, NY.

Geared mostly for the English-speaking Syrian community, this large-format Haggadah features commentaries by historic luminaries as Ramban, Rambam, Rabbi Ben Ish Hai and contemporary rabbis as Ben Zion Abba Shaul and Ovadia Yosef.

Beautifully designed, it blends traditional stories, parables, and laws and customs. Its Arabic version of Ehad Mi Yodea will be a hit if you like exotic haggadot.

The Scholar’s Haggadah: Ashekenazic, Sephardic and Oriental Versions. With a Historical-Literary Commentary by Heinrich Guggenheimer. Jason Aronson, Northvale, N.J.

At 414 pages, this monumental work delves into the history and the rituals of Ashkenazi, Sefardic and Yemenite communities, and treats them in equal footing. The text of the Haggadah is translated into English.

The Sefardic text is that of the Benamozegh Livorno Machzor, the standard for European, North African and Oriental Sefardic communities. The Ashkenazi text follows the consensus from seventeenth- and eighteen-centuries Haggadot from Amsterdam, Germany and Austria. The Yemenite text follows the printed sidur Tiklal, printed in Jerusalem in 1960. In some Yemenite families, poems in honor of the festival are sung.

La Hagadá con el comentario Meam LoezEdiciones Hanoj Wagfal. Jerusalén.

This one-of-a-kind edition was translated from Ladino into Spanish, and incorporates the commentaries of the Meam Loez, written in Ladino by Rabbi Yaakov Culi and published in 1730. The text of the Haggadah is in Hebrew. Numerous footnotes will help the readers understand it.

Sephardic Passover Haggadah. Translated with commentary by Rabbi Marc D. Angel. KTAV Publishing House. Hoboken, N.J.

Rabbi Angel, former spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel, in New York City, and author of several books of Sefardic history, says in the introduction that the purpose of his book is to bring Sefardic insghts and practices to the Seder tables “of our generation.”

The commentators cited in the book are a Who’s Who of the Sefardic world from different generations and different parts of the world. From the pre-Expulsion period are rabbis Bahia ibn Pakuda, Simon ben Zemah Duran and David Abdudraham. Among the moderns are rabbis Benzion Uziel and Eliezer Papo.

Features Ehad Mi Yodea and Had Gadya in Ladino.

© Daniel Santacruz, April 2017