Community Blog Q & A with Heidi Popkin about her Family Passover Haggadah

By Erica Streit-Kaplan
little girl reading

1: How did the idea for creating your own haggadah come about?  When was it first “conceived”?

When my daughters were 4 and 2 (twins), I wanted to host a brief but meaningful Passover seder.  I grew up with the “Maxwell House haggadah,” which my family used every year, cover to cover, and I loved the seder.  I knew I needed something shorter and more accessible to entertain my girls, yet I still wanted to keep the meaning of the holiday and the traditions of the seder intact.  After searching for a haggadah that fulfilled my wishes, I could not find anything I liked so I decided to create something myself.  I found several online versions of haggadot with options for conducting a family-friendly seder, so I proceeded to “borrow” the parts of each one that I liked best.  I ended up with a personalized haggadah that included the story of Passover, all of the prayers and traditions of the seder, and some songs that the girls were familiar with.  I also created finger puppets for different portions of the seder – including the wine, matzah, seder plate, marror, karpas, and plagues (of course) – to keep them entertained and also to offer them visuals of the seder activities.

2. How would you describe the Popkin Haggadah?

I would describe it as unconventional yet still traditional, accessible, and family-friendly (for all members of the family!).

3. How do you keep it relevant from year to year?

I have continued to update it each year as the girls get older and gain more knowledge of the Passover story and the seder traditions.  I have started to include more Hebrew, for example, and more songs.  The haggadah also gets a little longer each year as the girls’ attention span expands (little by little).

4. How did the haggadah come up among your Parenting Through a Jewish Lens (PTJL) classmates?

As Passover approached last year, my PTJL group was generally talking about how to make our family seders more inclusive for our children.  We all agreed that we wanted to maintain respect for our older family members and the sanctity of the seder, but having small children we also wanted to be sure they were included and engaged in both the holiday and the meal.  I mentioned that I had created this haggadah and offered to share it with the group.  Thus, the legend of the Popkin Haggadah was born. A number of families decided to adapt it into their own seders!

5. Do you think that sharing your haggadah is an example of how your Jewish journeys have been shaped by learning together in PTJL?

The sharing and caring and trust within our group has been truly wonderful.  Whether it is holidays, rituals, traditions, or life events, we all offer so much to each other through our participation in PTJL.  The experiences and learning that we each bring to the table is invaluable and amazing.  We have created a true bond within the group, and I think it is something we all treasure.

Heidi Popkin is a PTJL participant and mother of three girls in Needham. If you’d like to receive a copy of the Popkin Haggadah please email parenting@hebrewcollege.edu

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