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21st Century Seder:

You can do a million amazing things on your computer, so why not create your own Haggadah?   That’s what the folks behind figured, and it might be one of the most brilliant ideas we’ve heard of in quite some time.

We asked founder Eileen Levinson a few questions about this great new project.

How did the idea for

I came up with the idea in 2007, when I was a grad student in design at CalArts. We were given the assignment to imagine “The Future of Publication” – in other words, to start preparing for the feared “end of print”

My design & art has always focused on collective interactions – setting prompts for group participation, storytelling & improvisation – so for me, it was a logical next step to imagine a publication of a similarly collaborative nature. And being Jewish, the Haggadah came to mind as the ultimate collaborative text.  Jews have, for years, cut and pasted Haggadot. I simply wanted a place to collect the many artifacts that have already been created and provide an outlet for new voices to be heard. Most importantly, I had hoped that young Jews who had complex senses of identity (like me) could find new meaning in the holiday by accessing so many different points of view.

Is the idea to create a Haggadah and then print it?

The idea is to collect & share diverse perspectives on Passover tradition, which can be digested in many different ways, depending on the user. For some, this means looking for a single piece of content to supplement their existing haggadah, while others scour through hundreds of entries to mix, match and print an entire new text. These past few weeks, I’ve loved checking the site each day to see the range of new stories, artwork and commentaries that have been shared.

Do you see the Passover seder including iPads in the years to come?

Sure, but it could still be many years before its widespread. Halahka aside, who wants to spill maneshewitz on a $500 piece of hardware?

Since Passover is one week a year, what do you do for the site the rest of the time?  Any plans to expand to help Jews get engaged in other holidays?

This next year is going to be really exciting and productive. Thanks to grants from Natan & Jewish New Media Innovation Fund, we will work to relaunch the site with several new features. I’m most eager to update the final PDF printout into a more polished book that users can print at home or have professionally printed and bound. We will also add commenting and more explanatory text for Jews that are newer to Passover.

We do have plans to expand the site for additional Jewish texts & holidays. I’m especially interested in events which challenge the spectrum of Jews, from tradiitonal to secular, to personalize their spiritual practice. As for the specific holiday we will tackle next, we won’t be ready to announce for several months… but I do hear a lot Jews are celebrating Festivus…

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