Berit Engen WEFT and D'RASH – A Thousand Jewish Tapestries


THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (I)
 – My Seder Rundown: A Plate, Plans, QuAPs, and Themes

Despite one overriding idea, the Haggadah is somewhat confusing when it comes to its thematic mix, repetitions, myriads of concepts, sudden changes, and theatrical directions. I have found it helpful to approach the lively text by matter-of-factly internalizing its apparent layout, mapping its concealed structures, and listing the many themes.

 
- (12/12 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (II)
– Kindling


          The blessing commanding us to light the Festival candles is chanted to a special melody, signaling that today is a special day. We are gathered again like we were last year; there is a rhythm to our lives that makes us rooted, expressed in this brief ceremony while surrounded by family and friends.         


- (1/1 tapestry, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (III)
 – Four Upbeats and a Hunted Hare

The ritual-based first four steps introduce symbols of the seder which place Passover in a context of history and multi-faceted meaning. With our contemporary demand for seder inclusiveness and relevance, interpretations are revised and reimagined – thus, the off-centered look of these four tapestries. 


- (5/5 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (IV)
 – Short Prelude: Anticipation
 
Now the drama begins. Placed between Yachatz and the Maggid, this Aramaic fanfare bewitchingly connects the ritual beginning of the seder with the Passover story.  


- (1/1 tapestry, [sub]eries complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (V)
– Mega Interlude: The Telling  (Questions and declarations)
 

The whimsy of the Haggadah is most present in the Maggid, the largest and most important of the fifteen steps – and the seder’s raison d'etre. But in addition to telling the story of the Exodus, the Maggid renders interspersed questions and statements. Thus, one can easily lose the thread of the narrative itself. Freckle-like dots are woven into all the tapestries (in this Maggid subseries), hinting that most things are more complex than they appear to be and inviting us to reflect and discuss.     
   

- (Rather than showing the Maggid (The Telling) tapestries in the order of the Haggadah, I have woven and organized them in five (sub)series according to the various types of text that they represent.)
- (4/4 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (VI)
– Mega Interlude: The Telling ("The Four Children")

As one of the most well-known and beloved sections in the entire Haggadah, I think that “The Four Children” deserves a (sub)series of its own. I tried to make the portraits as different as the four ways of teaching and learning.  All are, however, connected in the color lilac. In the field of color symbolism, each color represents and evokes an array of emotions, the last one listed being the opposite of the first.  


- (Rather than showing the Maggid (The Telling) tapestries in the order of the Haggadah, I have woven and organized them in five (sub)series according to the various types of text that they represent.)
- (4/4 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
- Click on images for more information.



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (VII)
– Mega Interlude: The Telling (3: The story)

We fulfill the Biblical commandment of telling our children why and how we left Egypt. But in the process, we redefine and reflect on the events as recorded and retold. The story is interrupted in the Haggadah by other text elements, but in this (sub)series I have depicted it as a flowing narrative. Colors of the soil and sand are present in all the tapestries – except in the one of the Israelites celebrating by the sea. 
 
 
- (Rather than showing the Maggid (The Telling) tapestries in the order of the Haggadah, I have woven and organized them in five [sub]series according to the various types of text that they represent.)
- (12/12 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
- Click on images for more information.



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (VIII)
– The Telling (4: "The Ten Plagues")

“The Ten Plagues” is part of the narrative, but the list is so famous that it can stand alone. I made the first nine in the horizontal landscape format, but I decided to weave the last and consequential plague – the one that changed the course of history – as a portrait.

 
- (Rather than showing the Maggid (The Telling) tapestries in the order of the Haggadah, I have woven and organized them in five (sub)series according to the various types of text that they represent.)
- (10/10 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
- Click on images for more information.



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (IX)
– Mega Interlude: The Telling (5: Praises) 
 

Praising God is central to the way we retell the story. The insertion of praises throughout the Maggid help structure the narrative. The praise tapestries all have one centered and contained shape on a neutral background: for once in the book there are words that we don’t have to dwell and reflect upon. We just say or sing them loudly and in unison.
 
 
- (Rather than showing the Maggid (The Telling) tapestries in the order of the Haggadah, I have woven and organized them in five (sub)series according to the various types of text that they represent.)
- (4/4 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
- Click on images for more information.



THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (X)
– Foodlude


We continue with more blessings, and we reenact Rabbi Hillel’s eating of a symbolic sandwich in Temple times. Finally, we eat the meal – which we end with a kids’ treasure hunt resulting in the strangest dessert – followed by Grace After Meals. The tapestries are as different in expressions as the fiest-related steps are in execution and content.  

 
- (7/7 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (XI)
– Afterlude: Redemption

 
Building on Birkat haMazon’s promise of redemption, we recite or sing with heartfelt reflections: anger, aspirations, gratitude, and hope.
 
 
- (5/5 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (XII)
– A Tiny Pause
 
The seder being a lay-led home service, we can add our own traditions within the old frame of familiar text arrangements and set rituals. This allows us to feel a unique ownership on this night of celebrating freedom. I inserted this break of mood, as the beautiful text segment “Karev Yom . . . “ (which appears – but drowns – in the last step, the conclusion of the seder), has become a known, mystical, and quiet song with a magical melody.

 
- (1/1 tapestry, [sub]series complete)
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THE WHIMSICAL HAGGADAH (XIII)
– The Seder Windup: Briefing, More Praise, a Quiz, and One Little Goat


After announcing in unison that we have concluded the seder, we finish by singing loudly never-ending cumulative songs.
 
 
- (6/6 tapestries, [sub]series complete)
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