Reviewing: “The Shakespeare Haggadah: Elevate Your Seder with the Bard of Avon” by Martin Bodek. Wicked Son. 2022. English. Paperback. 200 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1637586228.
Martin Bodek loves Pesach. He enjoys the Seders, the food, and spending time with his family. He enjoys the holiday so much, in fact, that he actually created unique Haggadot for the Seders.
As Martin explained, he wanted to make the experience as accessible as possible so others can find the same joy in the Seders that he does. In the past he’s released three Haggadot: “The Emoji Haggadah,” “The Festivus Haggadah” and “The Coronavirus Haggadah,” all of which blend their topics into a unique and enjoyable read.
His newest edition is “The Shakespeare Haggadah: Elevate Your Seder with the Bard of Avon,” which he said is his attempt to get teenagers more involved in the Seders. He feels teens are often overlooked when it comes to Seder involvement, and wanted to do something that would encourage them to participate and feel a part of the holiday.
“Various Haggadot come out annually, targeting tykes and grownups, with nary an offering in between,” Bodek told The Jewish Link. “And I thought, Why ignore Gens Y and Z? So I stepped in to fill the gap.”
How “The Shakespeare Haggadah” works is that the Hebrew text is as it always is, but the English translation involves Shakespeare quotes—433 to be exact—condensed into it, making for an engaging read. Bodek describes the process of creating it as an incredible joy.
“Exercising my creative bone has definitely been the most fun part of making these Haggadot,” Bodek said. “I’ve been writing for decades, and cranking out books since 2010, but this little niche I’ve found has reached far and wide, and given me true joy around Passover. My work is around people’s tables! What could be happier than that for a writer?”
Bodek enjoys the feedback he’s received from families, especially from those who say his Haggadot encouraged families to take a more active part in the Seder. However, the idea to create the unique Haggadot actually stemmed from an epiphany Bodek had one Purim, another favorite holiday of his.
“Five years ago, my family went as emojis for Purim,” he said. “Adjoining the shalach manot was an emoji-tized rendering of Megillas Esther. I thought, ‘What can I flesh this out into that would be fully practical?’ Bam! The Haggadah! So I went to town with the idea, and people seemed to really enjoy it. Next, I’m particularly obsessed with ‘Seinfeld,’ and especially obsessed with Festivus. It was a no-brainer to marry the two. Then, the pandemic hit, and I used ‘The Coronavirus Haggadah’ as a salve for the populace, a bit of comic relief for something that was truly scary.”
Outside of his work making Haggadot, Bodek has written for a variety of publications including The Huffington Post, The Washington Times and The Denver Post. He even co-founded The Knish, a sort of Jewish take on The Onion. As for the process of putting together one of his Haggadot, Bodek first checks if the idea has merit with his friends on social media.
“My process is as follows: Every year, I publish a ‘Book Report’ and I send that to my friends and post on social media,” Bodek continued. “I then ask my friends which project I should focus on. I get very good answers, and I usually comply with the one that gets the most votes. Then, I continue laying down ideas, but on the first of November, I select one project to focus on solely, under NaNoWriMo (Google that) guidelines. This has worked for me for years now.”
All in all, Bodek said the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, and he is looking forward to the reception from people enjoying “The Shakespearean Haggadah” at the Seder table this year.
“I’ve sold thousands of copies of my books, and friends have sent me pictures of my books around their Seder tables, and there really isn’t a happiness like that for a writer,” Bodek went on to say. “It’s one thing to spot one’s own book on someone’s shelves, but it’s another to see it in actual use!”
Bodek’s Haggadot are available for purchase on Amazon. Additionally, you can check out The Knish, which currently serves as a sort of warehouse for his media coverage. You can check it out here: www.theknish.com/
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.