Why the Passover Haggadah Sucks

maxwellhousehaggGrowing up we used the Maxwell House Haggadah every Passover. I’m sure that some people out there really love it, but my experience with it was less than ‘good to the last drop’.

I don’t have time to get into the history of why the venerable coffee brand Maxwell House distributed free Passover Haggadahs, but according to Washington Jewish Week,

Produced as a sales promotion by Maxwell House for the past 70-plus years (a least 50 million have been printed), the coffee maker’s slim, bare-bones Haggadah may be one of the most ubiquitous religious texts in American Jewry largely because the price is right. It’s free with a product purchase.

The MH Haggadah seemed to be edited by at least 100 people during it’s 70 year history. The story was confusing; if you didn’t understand the plot to begin with you would be hopelessly lost. Even though my family skipped many sections, it still seemed to stretch out forever. Most importantly, it was so convoluted that neither my brother or I really ever figured out what the big deal was about Passover.

A few years back I started working on my own Haggadah, loosely based on the MH version, but a little more coherent and a lot shorter. It also is also much less preachy and doesn’t rely on the God character quite as much. I call it the “Shmegegge Haggadah”, and it can be yours to download for only one purchase of a Maxwell House product proof of purchase.

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Note on the word “Shmegegge”. Growing up, listening to my grandfather’s use of this word, I thought it meant something more like “silly”. Now that I’ve looked it up and it says, “hokum, meaninglessness, nonsense, nonsensicality, bunk – a message that seems to convey no meaning” that sounds a little stronger than I was intending for this Haggadah. I think Nol put it best: “The Shmegegge Haggadah tells the Passover story with occasional funny asides.” Not exactly the ‘Hokum Haggadah’, but maybe I’ll work on that next…

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