Today Ellen Rapkin of the Humanist Jewish Chavurah of Columbus came to teach us a thing or two about the Passover. There is a little anxiety in all of us that we will raise a new generation of people to take over the world who has no understanding of the past struggles of our people. In Jewish households, thePassover Seder is a ritual feast specifically designed to make sure that everyone remembers the struggle for freedom. The Haggadah is the text that serves as the guide or order of service. She taught us that the Haggadah is not a set service, there are many Haggadah available to follow, but all of them follow the same general outline of the serving of the meal. The absolute required element is telling the story of Hope to Jewish families, generally it is the story of the escape from Egypt. (Also 4 cups of wine… 4 cups of wine also seem to be a signature element in popular culture.
Broadly, a Haggadah is the texual guide through the meal as follows: The invitation; the lighting of candles, and washing of hands; the breaking of the matzah; asking the four questions ; telling the story; blessing the Matzah; the meal; the desert; singing the songs of praise and of survival.
In Orthodox Judaism there were certain accepted fixed texts accepted as authoritative which prohibited any changes to the text. In modern time and with the migration to Conservative Judaism minor additions and alterations to the text were accepted.
Reform Judaism allowed people to create their own haggadahs. Reform Jews enjoy a little liturgical creativity outside a traditional.
In America some corporations mass produced copies of an acceptable haggadahs as marketing tools and ways of showing that their products are kosher.
There is a lot more to it. The following of the Haggadah is as ceremonial as the family believes is fitting. You can find on Youtube.com a number of musical experiences representing the entire haggadah boiled down to a 5 minute video. But whether you believe in the formalities or not, one thing is for certain: Jewish children learn about their cultural history.