From the Jewish Daily Forward
: Literary wunderkind Jonathan Safran Foer
's next book will be an English version of the Passover Haggadah, the story of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt and the booklet which instructs Jews every year to dip their fingers into their wine and reminisce about being in the House of Bondage, which can sometimes feel awkward in front of your 86-year-old Bubby. The Haggadah, over 60% of which is composed of codified rites and prayers that cannot be changed or re-written, project has seen more than 4,000 known versions published, with the most popular by far being a Maxwell House-produced edition that's been around since the 1930's and was created as a coffee-selling tool. So why would the non-observant twentysomething Brooklynite with two bestselling novels under his belt want to take on such a project? According to the Forward
, Foer's motivation is "to inspire people toward a greater commitment for social change," that goes beyond flipping pages until you finally get to the Festival Meal:
We talk about slavery every year...We talk about the movement toward freedom every year. But when was the last time a Seder made you really feel those things in a deep way -- when you said, 'I want to become more active, say, in stopping what's going on in Darfur'? Because if that's not an example of a situation that needs this movement toward freedom, nothing is.
Foer says this is less a quest for identity than an attempt to make the story in the Haggadah — literally about enslavement and struggle for emancipation — resonate in today's readers: "The holiday is unimportant unless people end it thinking, 'I need to bring the story into my life.'"
Foer is currently working on the project from Berlin, where he will be for the next few months, and will presumably spend Passover, which is afikomen up next Monday, April 2nd.
— Goofy puns contributed by Rachel Sklar