Making your own Haggadah is not just a money-saver, but also a great way to educate yourself about the Passover seder, add a unique twist to your seder and have a more meaningful and satisfying holiday.
For generations, enterprising seder leaders have been sticking post-it notes in their favorite parts of existing Haggadahs, adding in photocopied readings or even cutting and pasting from multiple Haggadahs and combining it all in a looseleaf binder.
The Internet makes the project of creating a personalized Haggadah infinitely easier — and tidier, even if your tech and graphic design skills are minimal. Plus, you can do it with a clean conscience: Whereas the old-fashioned technique of photocopying pages from copyrighted, published Haggadahs is technically illegal, the websites we list below provide only material that is in the public domain.
While a seemingly infinite trove of Passover-related blessings, readings, songs and images are available online, don’t forget that you can also incorporate your own (or your guests’) writing, art and family photographs into the finished product.
Many DIY Haggadot are copied and stapled, but you can make yours more durable (and spilled wine resistant) by laminating each pages or putting them in a photo album, looseleaf binder with plastic sleeves or art portfolio like this.
Or, if you are reasonably tech-savvy and want to go paperless — and your guests are OK with using electronics on Passover (when traditional prohibitions similar to the Shabbat rules apply) — keep the whole text digital. You can email a PDF, PowerPoint or other document to your guests to download on their mobile devices, or even create a password-protected website.
Below are some resources for DIY-ers. Leave a comment if we’ve missed one, or if you have other tips you’d like to share:
Haggadot.com is the most comprehensive and user-friendly resource for Haggadah makers — and it’s free. After you register, you can choose from a constantly growing library of readings and images. The site guides you through the process with templates and an outline of all the sections of the seder. You can search by section, theme (i.e. social justice) and media type (text, video, image). In addition to letting you search by themes, the site also provides templates like this with recommendations for family-friendly and other specific needs.
You can also invite friends, or even all the seder guests, to log in and participate in the Haggadah-making. When you’re done, you print it out as a PDF file or download to your guests’ mobile devices. This video gives an overview of the process:
PunkTorah.org’s “Make Your Own Haggadah for Kids”
Print out this free (suggested donation of $10) downloadable PDF and have your children fill in the blanks with words and pictures. While this somewhat irreverent Haggadah was originally designed for use in Hebrew schools, it is self-explanatory and can be used anywhere. Highlights include “The story of Passover: in comic book form” with panels where kids can put their own illustrations; activities like puzzles and lyrics to original songs like “Take Me Out of Mitzrayim” (sung to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”) and “Passover Things” (to the tune of “My Favorite Things”). (“Mitzrayim” is Hebrew for Egypt.)
Sefaria, a growing online library with many major Jewish texts in Hebrew and English, offers everything from full Haggadahs to supplemental readings to additional commentary. Not only can you print these texts out or cut and paste them into your Haggadah, but you can also embed them into another website or digital document. Each selection is hyperlinked to the full text from which it was excerpted.
Pronounced: huh-GAH-duh or hah-gah-DAH, Origin: Hebrew, literally “telling” or “recounting.” A Haggadah is a book that is used to tell the story of the Exodus at the Passover seder. There are many versions available ranging from very traditional to nontraditional, and you can also make your own.
Pronounced: SAY-der, Origin: Hebrew, literally “order”; usually used to describe the ceremonial meal and telling of the Passover story on the first two nights of Passover. (In Israel, Jews have a seder only on the first night of Passover.)
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.