22 JEWISH WORLD • APRIL 12-18, 2024 terested in design.” The result was “the world’s first AI-generated Haggadah, a traditional [104-page] haggadah with supplements written by ChatGPT and illustrations by Midjourney [high-tech design firm]. A chunky icon of a rabbi, called Rabb.AI, narrates the seder. From the beginning, Rabb.AI,” who provides commentary in a dif- ferent color than theAI text, “warns readers that the book is meant to inspire discussion rather than be taken as a trustworthy source.” In addition, offers an online Haggadah supplement written by ChatGPT with visuals by DALL-E, an earlier AI visual tool created by the people at ChatGPT. Of course, Martin Bodek, an IT specialist from Teaneck, N.J., who turns out Haggadah parodies on an annual basis, is doing one this year: “A Star Wars Unofficial Passover Parody.” (While of- fers its own self-published Star Wars Haggadah, does not feature an official Star Wars parody Haggadah.) A Star Wars-inspired Haggadah “was overdue. I’ve been a [Star Wars] fan my whole life,” says Bodek, whose 2023 Haggadah was written in the style of William Shakespeare. For some seder participants who are more familiar with popular cul- ture than with the fine points of Jew- ish observance, or who are simply tired of using a traditional Haggadah (often for both Seder nights), a Hag- gadah parody is a way to honor the spirit of the holiday without sticking to the letter—or the letters—of a standard Haggadah, Bodek says. “We’re in a more creative uni- verse,” he adds. “If you want to get today’s youth attention … enter- tainment is the glue that helps to draw people in. We have to reach them where they are.” Are these changes in the Haggadah business good for the Jewish commu- nity, and for observance of Pesach? Yes, says Levine, who estimates that the total number of Haggadot bought annually in this country probably has gone up. The internet makes them easy to find and buy, and the increasing specialization makes them more attractive. “People always need a Hagga- dah. You get a Haggadah that makes you feel comfortable,” he says. “This is the future.” Steve Lipman has been a jour- nalist for many years. they feel to Jewish tradition, he says. An employee of another major Jewish bookstore in New York City a few years ago told a reporter that fewer Haggadah publishers were promoting or trying to sell their Haggadot at the store. Although English or Hebrew pre- dominate in Haggadah publishing, almost any country that is home to a substantial Jewish community fea- tures a Haggadah, sometimes many, in that land’s indigenous tongue. During the height of the Soviet Jew- ry movement, many Haggadot, put out by various activist organiza- tions, appeared in Russian. With Russian now a nyet-nyet among Ukrainian Jews, in their homeland and in the countries where they have become refugees since the Russian invasion in Feb- ruary 2022, at least two Haggadot in Ukrainian have come out. Are you an environmentalist? Or part of the LGBT community? Sports fan? Atheist, feminist, vegetarian, vegan, historian, art or poetry lover, Zionist, anti-Zionist, Harry Potter fan, or Seinfeld devotee? There’s a Haggadah (or several) for you. (For the serious Trekkie, there’s no full Star Trek Haggadah, but the Four Questions are available in Klingon.) Do you have a short attention span? There’s a choice of abridged Haggadot for you. Do you know someone with autism? There is a Haggadah for him or her (“A Hag- gadah for UnderstandingAutism”— . For the blind or visually im- paired, there’s a selection of Haggadot in Braille or with large print. Are these in-my-own- image brands of Haggadot a sign of Jewish t r a d i t i o n ’ s adaptivity or of our genera- tion’s preva- lent narcis- sism? What statement do these trends make about the state of U.S. Jewry? “I suspect it’s both a sign of Jew- ish creativity as well as an index of the Jewish community’s fragmenta- tion, or its being ‘balkanized,” says Jenna Weissman Joselit, professor of Judaic studies (with a concentra- tion in Jewish cultural history) at George Washington University. Some new Haggadot feature in- teractive creativity, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). For people who don’t abide by the halachic prohibition against us- ing electrical devices on a major holiday, a wide choice of apps is available, such as digitalhaggadah. com. A new crop of Haggadot are available on iPhone, iPod or iPad or Kindle; and there is a wide vari- ety of downloadable Haggadot. A s the Times of Israel re- ported last year, AI means that ”machine learning [is producing] entirely new—although not always accurate—artwork and commentary for the holiday, with just a few human prompts.” The Times of Israel article de- scribed an “AI-inspired Passover offering … in an old format: a printed book. Haggad.AI, created by two friends from Jerusalem in- owner of Manhattan’s (now only on- line) J. Levine Books and Judaica firm. This greatly reduces foot traffic in Jew- ish bookstores. “People don’t want to come in and shop,” especially in the weeks before Passover, “one of our [Jewish bookstores’] best seasons.” T he days of a year’s “hot,” best-selling, buzzy Hagga- dah seem to be over. There are too many to choose from to push any single product to the top of the sales chart. “This is not a bad thing,” says Levine. The more that people are able to find a Haggadah that meets their spiritual needs, the more connected defined interest group. Typically specialized, with many geared to children, they tend to be written by (and for) people with a particular theological orientation, political af- filiation, gender identification, etc. Every branch of Judaism has pub- lished its own Haggadah. Outside of the Orthodox commu- nity, which continues to produce the type of once-dominant traditional Haggadah with learned commentary and little accompanying art, the old- style Haggadah that was largely de- signed to inspire, not entertain, is mostly a part of the past. Besides such prominent Ortho- dox publishing companies as ArtScroll and Feldheim, which turn out new Haggadot on a regular ba- sis, many Haggadot are the purview of smaller presses, or academic uni- versity-based publishing houses, which conserve their resources to make the investment that a Hagga- dah entails. Most new Haggadot come out in a small initial press run, usually a few thousand books; the expenses are normally covered by sales garnered among a firm’s few but loyal readers. The online shopping factor has changed Haggadah purchasing. “Most people shop at amazon[.com]” for Haggadot—“they cornered themarket, says Danny Levine, fourth-generation Some prominent exam- ples from last year “The Striving Higher Haggadah: Contemporary perspectives on the age-old words of the Haggadah,” Rabbi Doniel Staum (Mosaica Press), which presents the author’s experience as a scholar and thera- pist to show the Haggadah’s “rele- vance … to our day”; “Did it Real- ly Happen: A Gently Skeptical Haggadah,” Tzemah Yoreh (inde- pendently published), which exam- ines the exodus story “through … the lens of modern scholarship”; “On This Night: An emunah over- view on every part of Maggid,” Rabbi Nesanel Berkowitz (Feld- heim), which shows how the vari- ous seder readings and rituals re- flect one’s faith in God; and three quirky Haggadot published by Mi- lah Tovah Press. Examples of this year’s Haggadot “The Zion Haggadah: How to Teach the Love of Israel at Your Seder” (Marvin Chinitz, Gefen Pub- lishing House), updated to include an afterword about the war in Gaza; the “Heroes Haggadah” by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and Deborah Bodin Cohen (Behrman House), which pairs parts of the Haggadah with profiles of 46 prominent Jews in various fields; and “Why On This Night? A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration,” Rahel Musle- ah, illustrations by Louise August (Kalaniot Books), updated from the original 2000 edition. Reflective of publishers’ reticence to engage in wide promotion, an early search of such sites as Google, Barnes and Noble, and turned up no other new Haggadot. These Haggadot are both a sign of Jewish creativity and an index of our community’s fragmentation. Haggadot continued from page 14