Review By Michele Justic
As well-intentioned as Chazal were to create learning opportunities within the Seder, some people can lose interest through the night. The Haggadah was compiled before many “People of the Book” turned their interests to screens. How to keep everyone excited about the wondrous miracles we are retelling?
Koren has introduced a new “Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel” with veteran Batman editor and JewishCartoon.com creator Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Israeli illustrator Erez Zadok. The dramatic history of Yetziyas Mitzrayim told against a backdrop of lush graphic art is a match made in Heaven. While Pharaoh fits in well with the world of comic-book villains, the graphic novel art form allows the writers to subtly raise other thoughts and questions.
For example, the depiction of Holocaust survivors throughout the book presents a more recent illustration of good triumphing over evil. The exodus of Ethiopian and other Jewry is also depicted alongside the traditional text of the Haggadah. A modern family is represented throughout, also alluding to some current sociological phenomena — for example, in the case of the “Rebellious Son.” The final songs of the night attract the attention they deserve through graphic representation. A basic comic archetype helps illustrate the rituals and practices of the Seder; don’t worry, true to graphic-noveldom, the identity is revealed in the end.
Yet, this Haggadah works so well because it works across all levels. Children and younger adults can appreciate the luminous artwork. Those unfamiliar with tradition can appreciate the methodical way of presenting the rituals of the night and the clear retelling of Jewish history. Even “Seder experts” can gain from the beautiful illustrations as well as the questions raised in the choice of illustrations. All in all, this will spark new life in your Seder. Thanks to many generous sponsorships, Koren has managed to keep the list price to $19.95, making it an affordable enhancement to your Pesach.