Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander's New American Haggadah

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander discuss The New American Haggadah, their take on a traditional Passover prayer book. The Haggadah recounts, through prayer, song, and ritual, the extraordinary story of Exodus, when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to wander the desert for forty years before reaching the Promised Land. Safran Foer edited Englander's translation, and major Jewish writers and thinkers like Jeffrey Goldberg, Lemony Snicket, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and Nathaniel Deutsch also provide commentary. It is designed and illustrated by the Israeli artist and calligrapher Oded Ezer.


Nathan Englander and Jonathan Safran Foer

Comments [18]

Barbara from nyc

Nathan Englander cannot complete a sentence! He was extremely annoying to listen to because he kept cutting himself off and not completing sentences. He expressed himself very poorly.

Apr. 03 2012 09:01 PM
Dina-Verley from Bron, NY

While i appreciated the opportunity to learn about Passover, soon after tuning in to the show today, I was put off by one of your guest's insulting comment about me being one of the "precious few" people in the wnyc listening public who have never been to a Passover Sedar. What's up with that comment? What does that mean? I found both authors to be extremely intelligent, but also condescending and exclusive in their discussion of Judaism. I would have hoped that they had used their segment as an inviting learning opportunity for those of us who are not familiar with Judaism to be introducted to the beauty of the laguage and ritual.

Apr. 03 2012 05:00 PM
Joyce from Manhattan

re: contributors: 1) Foer, 2) Englander, 3) Goldberg, 4) Snicket, 5) Goldstein, 6) Deutch, 7) Ezer, 8) + the unnamed (and not mentioned online here, Amazon, B&N & other places I looked) female timeline illustrator
A half anonymous 1/4 is not really better than 1/7th. Think about it, Mr. englander, even if you now don't only "sit at the table while the women work." There is more to overcoming ingrained prejudices than carrying a plate into the kitchen.

This, plus Mr. Englanders repeated adherence to the exact translation as a defense against gender neutrality makes me ask why the word "New" is in the title of this Haggadah. I ask the authors what is "new" about it. And, now I am curious to know what is American about it.

Apr. 03 2012 03:38 PM
Mikey from Brooklyn

To all those people saying they've never been to a Seder. Stop trying to schnor an invite. My mom's too tired this year!

Apr. 03 2012 02:16 PM
Mikey from Brooklyn


Are you trying to wangle an invite?

Well, my Mom's not making one this year, she just got back from the hospital, so we're all crashing at another friend's house and going to the synagogue communal seder, otherwise I'd invite you, so sorry dude!

Apr. 03 2012 02:14 PM

Did I really hear one of the guests said he suspected "precious few" of your listeners has never been to a Passover? Hard as it may be to believe, this Christian, white, married, suburban Republican who listens almost every day has never done so. Was the guest under the impression that Leonard Lopate's show (or, worse, public radio) is the exclusive domain of people who practice Judaism? I'm surprised to hear an educated person say something so narrow-minded without being challenged by the host.

Apr. 03 2012 01:46 PM
jgarbuz from Queens


Your guests sure made this a really boring topic right before Passover.

Apr. 03 2012 01:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Reform &, I think, Reconstructionist Jews in the Diaspora also have the Seder on 1 night, not 2.

I think the Pharaoh's command to drown Hebrew boys & let Hebrew girls live isn't any reason not to use gender-neutral language in other cases, esp. since grammatically masculine Hebrew words like "ben" can include both male & female when sex is not specified (as it was by Pharaoh).

Apr. 03 2012 01:32 PM
Angela Muriel from Manhattan

I always thought sitting in Coffee Shops (or cafes) and thinking was a NYC tradition, an activity I miss terribly as the fare has gotten so expensive to do, besides you're not allowed to "loiter" any more tables must be kept turning!!

Apr. 03 2012 01:31 PM

Just wondering if you also do a show for any of the Muslim's holidays.

Apr. 03 2012 01:30 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Joyce of Manhattan

The job of the wimmen is to prepare the meal, clean the house,and they have no time to be sitting and rewriting the Haggadah. You have to leave that mainly to the menfolk!

Apr. 03 2012 01:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Clark

I've never been to Mass either, but I think I get the gist of it.

The Haggada is a short book of stories and liturgy and songs read during a meal called "the Seder" that basically retells the story of the Israelites in EGypt, and the struggles and miracles that enabled Moses to lead his people out of bondage to their promised homeland in Canaan. If you've seen the movie "The Ten Commandments," you've got the gist of it.

Apr. 03 2012 01:25 PM
Fred from Brooklyn

What was that Jonathan? So few of Leonard's listeners have never heard a Haggadah? You're kidding us, right?

Apr. 03 2012 01:24 PM
art525 from Park Slope

"I'm sure there's no one out there who hasn't been to a Haggadah?" Jeez I guess being a goy who never has been to one I should turn the show off now.

Apr. 03 2012 01:21 PM

Sorry, I'm one of the few who've never been to a Seder. I never heard of Haggadah. Can your guests try to be more inclusive?

Apr. 03 2012 01:21 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Haggadah is just ancient Zionist propaganda :)

Apr. 03 2012 01:20 PM
Joyce from Manhattan

Please ask why only one of 7 contributors to the New American Haggadah is a woman.
It is not only disappointing, but it is somewhat scary, considering the current assaults on women's rights, to see otherwise thoughtful "men-in-charge" dismiss women's voices for themselves and as role models in this New American Haggadah.

Apr. 03 2012 12:52 PM
Beth Haber

I am finding much to admire in the New American Haggadah thoughtful, imaginative and visually powerful-BUT really curious about the decision to go with the 4 sons rather than the 4 children- we have worked too hard to make the Seder experiential for all participants- and sons and daughters are part of the discussion.

Apr. 03 2012 12:38 PM

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