In 2003, Debbie Foster was a teacher at Stepping Stones . . . to a Jewish Me, a program for interfaith families. When it came time for teaching about Passover, Foster did what many teachers do — she improvised! Foster tapped into her artistic abilities and drew upon her Jewish resources to create a Haggadah that would touch her young students as well as their families. With a single Sharpie, Foster hand-lettered and illustrated what is now The Jewcy Haggadah: A Haggadah for Everyone.
Over the past 17 years, The Jewcy Haggadah has gone through several iterations and upgrades. The latest edition has just been published by Sophie Irving Press.
Foster’s 36-page Haggadah is whimsical, sincere and complete. Every page contains her black-and-white illustrations — which can be colored — along with the requisite text in simple, accessible English so that seder participants of all ages and backgrounds can understand the story of the Exodus and the symbols and rituals of the seder. The blessings are also presented in Hebrew and with English transliteration.
The Jewcy Haggadah is peppered with Foster’s own interpretations of the Passover story and rituals, along with “conversation starters.”
Foster asks simple questions, such as what it means when we dip parsley into saltwater and bitter herb into charoset, as well as prompting participants to write their own verses to Dayenu!: “If G-d had given us [fill in the blank], it would have been enough!”
The Haggadah is also a coloring book and activities book. Foster invites children — and artistic adults — to illustrate the Ten Plagues, or the Israelites walking through the Red Sea to freedom. Readers are given the opportunity to devise their own recipe for charoset.
Foster also suggests acting out different stories from Exodus, such as Baby Moses, Miriam and the Nile River, Moses and the Egyptian taskmaster, and the flight from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. These are a few of the hands-on activities presented in the Haggadah.
Foster is a cooking maven — she was a finalist in the national Manischewitz Cook-Off a few years back — and so it’s only natural that her Haggadah includes some of her favorite Passover recipes, inspired by her late grandmothers Beverly Cohn Bender and Miriam Foster.
Debbie Foster wears many hats: Jewish educator, cook, TEDx speaker, Rhythm & Ruach facilitator, and author and artist. All of these talents and interests come together in The Jewcy Haggadah, which enables seder leaders and organizers to fulfill the concept of presenting the seder in a way that is understandable and meaningful to all its participants. Foster’s hope is that “more people will enjoy the seder and will look forward to more than the food.”
Learn more at thejewcyhaggadah.com.
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