Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Chag Kasher V'Shakesmeach!

 Table of contents

(jump to any section you like; I'm not twisting your arm to read *all* of this):

1) Insane, electric coverage for The Shakespeare Haggadah
2) An article answering why I do parody haggadot in the first place
3) My chag sameach wishes for you and yours
4) Zaidy's War, waiting in the wings.


You'll please pardon the silly wordplay in the subject of this e-mail. I've been giddy with the coverage The Shakespeare Haggadah has gotten this season. It's been in everything, everywhere, all at once.

Out of the blocks, it reached shelves in places no book of mine has ever reached before, including Walmart, Target, gift shops in Jewish Museums in the northeast, and get this, Harvard University's library. I'm an Ivy Leaguer!

The roster of articles and interviews, includes, but is not limited to (because I may actually have missed a few):
  1. JNS.org: https://www.jns.org/nay-leavend-bread-shalt-beest-eaten-author-martin-bodek-has-a-shakespearean-twist-on-passover/, picked up by The Jewish Exponent (Staten Island), Columbus Jewish News, Cleveland Jewish News, L'chaim Magazine (San Diego), Baltimore Jewish Times, the Jewish Ledger (Connecticut), and the wildest of them all, Christians for Israel International.
  2. The Jewish News of Northern California: https://jweekly.com/2023/03/28/ai-rushes-in-but-the-best-of-2023s-new-haggadahs-are-human-made/
  3. Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/shakespeare-at-the-seder-author-writes-passover-haggadah-as-the-bard-would-have/, picked up by Qoshe.com, JewishNews.com, Alberta Jewish news, and TheWorldNews.net
  4. The Jewish Chronicle: https://www.thejc.com/news/news/to-dip-or-not-to-dip-the-shakespeare-haggadah-2PgR4h8OW6T03SryDOalW7
  5. Jewish Journal: https://jewishjournal.com/judaism/holidays/357462/why-is-this-haggadah-different-from-all-others/
  6. The St. Louis Jewish Light: https://stljewishlight.org/our-jewish-learning/3-different-ideas-for-you-next-passover-haggadah/
  7. Jewish Rhode Island: https://www.jewishrhody.com/stories/a-haggadah-for-everyone,31943
  8. The Jewish Link: https://jewishlink.news/features/58511-the-haggadah-still-a-template-for-jewish-creativity
  9. Yahoo: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/looking-haggadah-fits-family-11-164653582.html, picked up by Parade, Gossip Chimp, Clayton News Daily, Henry Herald, Kilgore News Herald, Tyler Morning Telegraph, Longview News-Journal, Victoria, Longview, Panola Watchman (they love me in Texas!), and The Rockdale Citizen.
  10. Finally, last night I was a guest on New York Shakespeare's Instagram Live show, which was a blast: https://www.instagram.com/p/CqmPZMiqbqR/
So if you're keeping track, The Shakespeare Haggadah was covered by press in 4 countries (U.S. Israel, UK, Canada), and 10 states.

I couldn't have done any of this without an enormous media push from my publisher, Wicked Son Books, and superhuman efforts by my Fairy Godpublicist, Judy Tashbook Safern. Thank you, guys!


I've been doing a lot of talking lately, and the number 1 question I get is: why? So I wrote a long-winded answer that I'm happy to present to you. I didn't send it to any news outlet because it's more of a personal response, so consider this an exclusive:

Ask Not Why I Write Parody Haggadot; Ask for Whom


Martin Bodek

I recently published the second folio of The Shakespeare Haggadah, and the question I’ve been most frequently receiving is, “Why?”

To this, I reply, “Can you phrase that in Elizabethan English, please?”

As the questioner stammers back with “Whyeth?” or “Whyfore?”, I then volunteer a little bit of history, so that they understand the full picture, and I launch into an elevator speech that goes something like this:

Deep breath, aaaaaaaaand:

A long time ago, in a galaxy right here haggadot were generally gorgeously-wrought masterpieces of artistic expression. This “era,” if you will, lasted for hundreds of years. This gave way to an era of less artistic – albeit highly useful – proliferation thanks to the godsend of the printing press. After this time came the next era of customized haggadot for all manner of movements, religious stripes, causes, activism, and advocacy. On the heels of this push came the late-20th century surge of scholarly works, which dove deeper into the text, and then deeper still. At the turn of the 21st century a new age began: the age of wildly creative versions of the classic haggadah, both those hewing to the original text and those departing, but with imagination and innovation.

Aaaaaaaaaand exhale.

I created The Shakespeare Haggadah in this era, which is still thriving, and looks like it will last a while. As a gentleman named Albert Einstein once said, “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

I estimate – and this is debatable – that this era kicked off in 2007, when both Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah and 30 Minute Seder: The Haggadah That Blends Brevity With Tradition were published. The former targeted children’s interests; the latter targeted anyone whose attention span was shrinking along with the rest of human culture. Both perpetually rank rather high on Amazon.

This was immediately followed by the publication of Joyous Haggadah: A Children and Family Cartoon Haggadah, which continued to lay the groundwork for including children, and pulling them back and towards the seder table.

More haggadot continued to get published over the next decade that specifically targeted children, tweens, and teens, but the years 2017-2019 experienced an explosion of creativity and inclusivity.

These were, by my count and opinion: The excellent The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah, The all-encompassing Welcome to the Seder: A Passover Haggadah for Everyone, the fully-inclusive The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and their Grownups), and the gobsmackingly- beautiful The Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel.

Each of these mightily served further to invite and urge and welcome the entire family back to the seder table, with eagerness aroused by the new creative expressions they could hold in their hands and inhale with wonder while the master of ceremonies carried on with his duties.

Into this window of opportunity, I like to think that my The Emoji Haggadah helped to usher this movement along. My purpose was the same that had been established with the rest of the excellent new expressions: get that seder table brimming again, and the family talking, and enjoying, and geshmak-ing. The Emoji Haggadah still does very well, and it remains – as of this writing – the first, and still only, book written entirely in emoji. If that doesn’t get your children’s attention, perhaps my next three haggadot will.

I then published The Festivus Haggadah, targeting Gen X’s interest, and, surprisingly, Gen Y, who love Seinfeld and Friends, for some wildly inexplicable reason that escapes me.

I then published The Coronavirus Haggadah, because humanity needed comic relief in a bad way.

Finally, I wrote The Shakespeare Haggadah specifically for teenagers and college youth, because, in my view, they remain the most underserved market for haggadot. The adults have been catered to for almost a millennium; the children for at least a decade and half; let’s do something for our teens.

I have more haggadot in the works, and the answer to the original question posed is now very simple, after all this has been explained. The sum of the matter is: I write parody haggadot to enrich everyone’s seder, to promote inclusion for everyone, to foster family harmony, and to create a fun, loving atmosphere for my Jewish people, to the best of my ability and the talent given me.

Chag kasher v’sameach!

Mar­tin Bodek is the author of The Emo­ji Hag­gadahThe Fes­tivus Hag­gadahThe Coro­n­avirus Haggadah, the recent­ly re-pub­lished The Shake­speare Hag­gadah, several future haggadot and seven oth­er books.


It's been an amazing season for me, as you can imagine. The Festivus Haggadah continues to benefit from its natural dual-holiday sales seasons (Festivus/Passover), The Coronavirus Haggadah still supplies comic relief, and The Emoji Haggadah is showing up in bookstores all over Israel (I know because friends keep sending "shelfies" with the book).

I'm thankful; I'm grateful; I feel accomplished.

I'd like to use this positive energy to wish you and yours an enriching and enervating, wonderful and winsome, innovative and imaginative, uplifting and upbeat, meaningful and memorable, invigorating and inspiring, familial and fantastic chag sameach.


P.S. Haggadah season is a wonderful diversion, but once Passover is over, I'm going to throw myself into continuing to push Zaidy's War into the public consciousness. It's my most serious and most important work.

It's done well out of the gate, with excerpts appearing in Jew in the City, Aish.com, and FJJ, reviews pending in The Jewish Press among other outlets, more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads than I've received for any of my previous work, blogger and TikTok reviews, and talks in interesting places. I'm scheduled to speak to 5th and 6th graders on Yom Hashoah, and I'm looking forward to the meaningful experience.

So, thank you for making it this far, and I'd like to please ask you, if I may, to a) send me pics of my haggadot if they happen to adorn your seder table b) review my books online once this crazy season is over, and c) consider/recommend me as a speaker for fun things like haggadot, and serious things like Zaidy's War.

Thank you very much!

-Martin (Mordechi) Bodek


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