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Passover Seder guide variations abound

Two Oklahoma City women who have coordinated countless Passover Seders said there is one thing they couldn't do without: the Haggadah that ties the sacred meal together.
by Carla Hinton Published: April 7, 2012

Two Oklahoma City women who have coordinated countless Passover Seders said there is one thing they couldn't do without: the Haggadah that ties the sacred meal together.

“It would be like having a play with no script,” Helene Harpman said, smiling.

The Haggadah is a compilation of prayers, Bible passages, hymns and rabbinical literature that is read during the Passover Seder, a ceremony held in Jewish homes to commemorate the Israelite liberation from Egypt in biblical times. The eight-day Passover holiday began at sundown Friday.

Traditional family Seders are typically held on the first night of Passover in Jewish homes. Also many Jewish synagogues and temples often host a congregation-wide Seder, planning it for the first or second night of Passover. Emanuel Synagogue, 900 NW 47, planned to offer a congregation-wide Seder on Friday, while Temple B'nai Israel, 4901 N Pennsylvania, is hosting its congregational Seder on Saturday.

Harpman, 77, a retired University of Oklahoma professor, said some nontraditional Passover Seders are often held at other times during the holiday.

Harpman and her longtime friend Linda Gardner, 74, have collaborated for years to coordinate and cook for the congregational Seder at Emanuel Synagogue. This year, the pair decided they would coordinate a three-family Seder at Harpman's home.

Abby Jacobson, rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue, said the Haggadah guides Jewish families through the sacred meal.

The Jewish leader said the Haggadah provides a teachable moment.

She said most Jewish families have several different copies of the Haggadah, particularly the Maxwell House Haggadah distributed for free at grocery stores in the 1950s as a promotion for the coffee company.

Gardner and Harpman said a Haggadah often holds special significance or family memories.

For instance, Gardner, who attends Emanuel Synagogue, said she recently rediscovered a vintage Haggadah that was presented to her as a Hebrew School award when she was 8 years old. Gardner said she and her family have utilized the treasured Haggadah, published in 1946, for many years after leaving her native England and settling in the United States.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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