Israel Drazin

A new superb Haggada

Maggid Books’ 2024, “The Promise of Liberty, A Passover Haggada,” is superb. It tells the story of the Israelite exodus from Egyptian slavery over 3,300 years ago and reveals the many lessons applicable today, especially what freedom means in Judaism and America.

Unbeknownst to many, the Sidur, the daily prayer book, Machzor, the holiday prayer book, and the Passover Haggada used at the Passover Seder meal and ceremony are not mere collections of ideas. They are rich with diverse and often conflicting notions, not presented for blind acceptance but to engage readers, provoke thought, and inspire a deeper understanding of the world and oneself.

The three include rational and mystical notions and ideas not meant to be applicable today. Readers can choose, but let the ideas challenge them. Some should even be rejected by everyone or given a sensible interpretation. An example is the Siddur and Machzor prayer for men to read, thanking God for not making them women. It can be interpreted as teaching the man to thank God that men have more biblical commands to observe than women.

The new Haggada contains much more than the traditional Hebrew text with easy-to-understand modern English translation. It also has detailed explanations of the many ceremonies with instructions on how to do them, fifteen scholarly, easy-to-read essays, such as Israel’s Enemies, Lincoln Dying on Passover, An American Moses, An American Josua, The Power of Imagination, and America’s Favorite Prophet. Virtually every page has paintings or drawings, and many famous Jewish and American leaders are mentioned and their teachings narrated.

An example is the introduction to the tale of Absalom Jones, born in 1746 and freed from slavery at age 38. He became the first African American ordained by the Episcopal Church in 1802. We are told how and why the story of the Israelite exodus from Egyptian slavery inspired him.

“The Promise of Liberty, A Passover Haggada” is not just a book but a gateway to a deeper understanding of Judaism, America, and the concept of freedom. It is a beacon of inspiration, urging us to delve further into these rich and complex subjects.

About the Author
Dr. Israel Drazin served for 31 years in the US military and attained the rank of brigadier general. He is an attorney and a rabbi, with master’s degrees in both psychology and Hebrew literature and a PhD in Judaic studies. As a lawyer, he developed the legal strategy that saved the military chaplaincy when its constitutionality was attacked in court, and he received the Legion of Merit for his service. Dr. Drazin is the author of more than 50 books on the Bible, philosophy, and other subjects.
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