Had Gadya: A Passover Song

Overview

Designed to provoke the curiosity of children, Had Gadya is the traditional cumulative song that ends the Passover Seder. Internationally acclaimed artist Seymour Chwast provides a fresh look at Had Gadya with a bright, spring palette in a charming folk-art style. Rabbi Michael Strassfeld provides a thought-provoking afterword on the symbolism of this beloved song.

An illustrated, bilingual version of this cumulative folk song that is sung at the end of the Passover...

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Overview

Designed to provoke the curiosity of children, Had Gadya is the traditional cumulative song that ends the Passover Seder. Internationally acclaimed artist Seymour Chwast provides a fresh look at Had Gadya with a bright, spring palette in a charming folk-art style. Rabbi Michael Strassfeld provides a thought-provoking afterword on the symbolism of this beloved song.

An illustrated, bilingual version of this cumulative folk song that is sung at the end of the Passover Seder. Includes a background note on the history and symbolism of the song.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As the dishes are cleared and the Passover Seder begins to wind down, many families end their celebration with the rousing traditional folk song "Had Gadya." In his picture-book interpretation, Chwast (The 12 Circus Rings) employs a breezy, slightly chunky folk-art style to depict the song's action in a bustling, Old-World setting. The verses tell the story of how a goat kicks off a chain of events that ends with a visit from God himself. "An only goat,/ an only goat/ My father bought/ for two zuzim," begin the lyrics. Before long, a dog and cat join the fray and a fire ensues. When an ox starts more trouble, a butcher, an angel of death and God are added to the mix. The cumulative style holds particular appeal for children who are likely to enjoy guessing who or what comes next, and mastering the order of the lyrics. Adults may well find deeper meaning in the song's circle-of-life symbolism. As the story progresses Chwast's kindly-looking villagers-rendered in a cheery palette of acrylics-lay in supplies and prepare for the Seder. Strassfeld's afterword discusses the history and meanings of the song, and additional lyrics in Aramaic, as well as a printed musical arrangement are included so that families may enjoy this version at home. All ages. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Acrylic paintings in a childlike folk-art style play out this traditional song that is sung at the end of the Passover Seder. Chwast's illustrations of a peasant farm show spring hay and egg gathering; women washing clothes in a stream; children playing; matzoh baking; candle lighting; and, finally, the family seated for the Seder meal. The characters mentioned in the song appear one after another in a white border at the top of each spread, until all of them are shown together. Had Gadya (one goat) is a cumulative, seemingly nonsensical song that tells of a goat, which is eaten by a cat, which is bitten by a dog, which is chased by a stick that is burned by fire, and so on. The song ends on a serious note with the appearance of the Angel of Death, who kills the butcher and then is destroyed by God. Herein lies a problem with this presentation. The simple picture-book format has the appearance of a preschool story, but the visualization of the ending (a scary Angel of Death that appears on two pages) makes it inappropriate for young children. Older children will be put off by the simple format. A two-page endnote by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, geared to adults, explains the song's history and possible meanings. Music and words in transliterated Aramaic are appended.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Had Gadya" or "One Little Goat" traditionally brings the annual Passover Seder to a close as families jubilantly sing each portion over and over again. Unlike the classic 1979 Marilyn Hirsh school-play version, Chwast illustrates the characters of the goat, cat, dog, stick, fire, water, ox, butcher, angel of death and God with an Eastern European folktale flavor, but almost ignores the cumulative repetition other than the traditional last line of "Had gadya," thus curtailing the fun of the lively vocal participation. He displays each addition at the top of the page, while scenes of a village life with holiday preparations are below in bright-colored acrylic, though unappealingly clotted, folk-art paintings. Backmatter includes the musical score and the original Aramaic version with suggestions for dramatic acting, as well as a good explanation by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld on the history and symbolic meaning of the song. (Picture book. 3-7)
From the Publisher
“The simple yet thorough explanations and interpretations will provide a boon for parents seeking to help their children understand the relevance of the simple folk song to the greater mysteries of this important Jewish holy day.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Exuberant . . . bound to add to the pleasure of the Seder even as it provokes some lively arguments.”—Booklist

“Chwast, a noted graphic artist, puts the traditional song in a fresh new setting.”—Washington Post Book World

“Delightful. Chwast’s paintings are at once whimsical and powerful.”—The Jewish Week

“As an artist whose immediately recognizable images are at once primitive and childlike, yet sophisticated and modern, who better than Seymour Chwast to capture the Seder’s [traditional last song].”—The Forward

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596432987
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.16 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Seymour Chwast is a distinguished graphic artist whose work has influenced two generations of designers and illustrators. He is a cofounder of the Push Pin Studios and a member of the Art Directors Hall of Fame. His work appears in major museums throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and appears regularly in Time, The New York Times, and Newsweek. He based his depiction of the angel on Rabbinic sources, and created the setting of Had Gadya from his appreciation of the paintings of Marc Chagall and his interest in folk art.

Rabbi Michael Strassfeld is the rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. He is coauthor of the three volumes of The Jewish Catalog, as well as A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah, and author of The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary.

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Read an Excerpt


An onlu goat, and only goat/My father bought for two zuzim./Had Gadya, had gadya.
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