Whether or not you celebrate Passover, you may have heard of the Passover Haggadah, the guide book that each spring season Jews everywhere use in their homes to perform the annual Passover Seder service. The ancient tome relates the story of the Exodus from Egypt and is replete with erudition, customs and blessings. The Haggadah is published in a myriad of forms, mostly scholarly and text-heavy. There are illustrated versions, though many abridge the text and are mostly aimed at kids or the unaffiliated. What if there was an unabridged illustrated version to appeal to Seder attendees of all ages and backgrounds equally? What if there was a Haggadah to recast the origin story of Jewish identity in a medium that’s contemporary, cool, and fun?
That’s the idea behind the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel, a non-profit project now being produced by veteran DC Comics editor Jordan B. “Gorf” Gorfinkel and illustrated by Erez Zadok, a top graduate of the renowned Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. The purpose of this Haggadah is clear to Gorf and his growing team of investors: using a proven medium of popular culture for engaging generations of all ages and backgrounds – and even faiths – in history, tradition and culture.
At a time when superheroes are more popular than ever, the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel will bring to life the classic stories and universal themes of slavery and freedom by adapting an original, modern translation of the unabridged original text as “Marvel-style” sequential art. Facing pages will feature the unabridged (and yes, fully Kosher) Hebrew text and English transliteration. And “how to” instructional comics will depict the holiday rituals and customs for everyone at the table to follow.
The inspiration came from Gorf’s own background. He could quote chapter and verse of Batman. The bible? Not so much, even though he says, “the close connection between Judaism and comic books, which was a Jewish innovation, was always there. Says Gorf, “Think of the Passover story this way: Desperate parents float their son to safety, where he is adopted and raised to adulthood, finally discovering his true destiny as the hero of his own people.
“We could be talking about Superman, although in reality, we are also talking about Moses.”
Gorf for nearly a decade managed the Batman franchise at DC Comics. His work has served as the inspiration behind TV shows and movies, including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Birds of Prey.” In the corporate sector, he produces storytelling content for companies like Microsoft and Hasbro and non-profits like TOMS Shoes and the Steinhardt Foundation, to name a few. He leads the Super Storytelling Seminar for companies and organizations across the globe, working with executives and employees to craft more engaging communication. He is also a cartoonist who for two decades has been drawing JewishCartoon.com, a weekly comic strip for Jewish newspapers and featured online. He is pulling together all the threads of his creativity and Jewish pride in the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel.
Although the book is still in production, and set for release next year, it’s already drawing strong interest and support from proponents of Jewish identity and continuity. It’s not hard to see why. “Who wouldn’t want a graphic novel to use at their Seder?” Gorf says. If you’re interested in learning more about Gorf, the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel or making a tax deductible contribution, visit the project’s website at www.JewishCartoon.com/passover.