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Haggadah: The Passover Guide and Storybook
The haggadah, Hebrew for "the telling," is the liturgy for the Passover seder. The traditional haggadah (plural haggadot or haggadahs) includes the preparation ritual of removing hametz from the home before Passover, a listing of the order of operations of the seder and a retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, with additional prayers and songs.
Most of the haggadah is in Hebrew or Aramaic, the ancient languages of Jewish life and prayer in the Middle East, usually with a translation on the facing page. Many modern haggadot have a retelling of the story without much Hebrew or Aramaic, and may include readings and songs from other traditions and parts of history that fit with Passover themes.
Haggadot will often have song lyrics and musical notation to help new singers learn the melodies. Modern haggadot may have an accompanying CD to play along with the story to help the non-singers at the table or for seders where everyone is a newcomer to the experience. Some publishers have included transliteration of the Hebrew into English letters, so that everyone can join in with the Hebrew singing and chanting at the meal.
If you are a first-time guest at the seder, your hosts will provide a haggadah for you to use, and you can follow the lead of your hosts about how to participate. If you are planning a seder at your house for the first time, we have included a list of some suggested haggadahs you can purchase or download from the internet. You can go in person to your local Judaica shop, synagogue gift shop or Jewish bookstore to browse through the choices, or shop on the web.
Hebrew for "order," refers to the traditional course of events, or service, surrounding the Passover and Tu Bishvat meals.