Thursday, December 17, 2015

Looking for help typesetting/formatting

A while back, someone suggested a skeptic's annotated haggadah would be an interesting project. While I agreed in theory, I also thought that the major roadblock for me would be providing an appropriate layout. After poking around for about 30 minutes this morning, I still think that's the case. But that could also be because I have very limited skills in this area. Laying things out in html is one thing, but doing it in a nice .pdf is another matter.

Therefore, I'm looking for help in this. What I was thinking is a text where (vowelized Hebrew) is on one side and an English translation (which I will rewrite) on the other. Instructions (such as, lift the cup of wine) will be in english and centered. Then there needs to be room for annotations. These could either be along the side, or as footnotes, or whatever. Some of the annotations may be quite long though. To get a feel for what they might look like, this post, has some examples of annotation ideas.

If anyone thinks they can do this, or at least set me up with a template, that would be great. I'm not planning to make any money off of this, so it's an entirely volunteer thing. The ideal format would probably be a LateX template. But I could work with other formats if needed. (I don't actually have access to Microsoft word though, just the free opensource alternatives, so that could make things difficult).

Email if interested (email can be found under the contact section.)


  1. Have you seen "Haggadas Chazal" (hebrew) by Shmuel and Zev Safrai? It's a critical history of the Haggadah and it's really excellent. I've used it for the past two years. Not sure that's exactly the same thing you want to write, but it'll probably be an invaluable resource.

    Do you think you'll be finished by Pesach? I'm looking forward to what you come out with!

    1. While such a book looks very nice, it doesn't appear to be one I can easily get my hands on.

    2. Check out your local university library. That's where I got my copy. Also try interlibrary loan.

    3. Looks like there's also an English version:

    4. Yeah, I checked. They don't have it. :(

    5. Sorry to hear that. IMHO any scholarly approach to the Haggadah needs to start with this book. Did you try interlibrary loan?

  2. I would use a program like Microsoft publisher to do the layout. It allows you to position blocks of text and illustrations more precisely than Word.

    For layout, maybe something like a gemara? The passage from the Hagaddah in Hebrew and English in square blocks on facing pages, and the annotations and any illustrations around them.

    I find illustrations from hagados through the years to be really interesting. Like that the Rasha was often depicted as a soldier. Or illustrations showing the Bnei Yisroel in then-contemporary clothes, including clothing on women that today would be considered untznius.

  3. before I spend the $45 on the Haggadah of the Sages, would someone be able to give me a brief synopsis of what i will find in it?
    Thanks in advance!