The Haggadah, the book at the center of the Jewish holiday of Passover, has quite a story to tell: the epic Exodus narrative of God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

But one of the most popular versions in America, the Maxwell House Haggadah, tells another story, too. It’s the story of how a Jewish advertiser and a Southern coffee company teamed up, hoping to boost sales – and wound up creating a new Passover tradition that’s lasted nearly a century.

It’s a testament to the often-overlooked role marketing has in our lives, even in religion, writes scholar Kerri Steinberg. But this slim book is also a reminder of how deeply tradition and innovation have been interwoven in the history of American Judaism – as is true of Judaism itself.

For those who celebrate, happy Pesach! And for those who don’t, enjoy sipping your coffee this weekend with a slice of history.

This week we also liked articles about labor shortages in schools, book banning and censorship, and the future of fishing.

Molly Jackson

Religion and Ethics Editor

A Jewish family welcomes home their Navy man and gathers for a Passover Seder at their home in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1943. Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis Historical via Getty Images

How a coffee company and a marketing maven brewed up a Passover tradition: A brief history of the Maxwell House Haggadah

Kerri Steinberg, Otis College of Art and Design

A collaboration between advertiser Joseph Jacobs and the famous coffee company produced the classic U.S. haggadah. The book sets out the ceremony for the Seder meal.

Twitter may not be a darling of Wall Street, but it occupies a unique place in the social media landscape. AP Photo/Richard Drew

Elon Musk’s bid spotlights Twitter’s unique role in public discourse – and what changes might be in store

Anjana Susarla, Michigan State University

Twitter, more than other social media platforms, fosters real-time discussion about events as they unfold. That could change if Musk gains control of the company.

The musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ has always had ardent fans and fierce critics. Blick/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Best Easter pageant ever? Half a century of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

Henry Bial, University of Kansas

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s famous musical has long inspired controversy for how it depicts the story of Jesus of Nazareth.


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