After years of leading Passover seders in his home, Rob Kopman got tired of hearing, "When do we eat?"
Eight years ago, for fun, he put together his own Hagaddah - one that neither his family nor his guests would want to skip through.
"Every year we had a new guest, and they all wanted a copy," he says.
Last year, he wrote "30minute Seder: The Haggadah That Blends Brevity With Tradition" to test the market beyond his own table and received "such a great response" that he decided to do a more extensive version this year.
In order to ensure that it was kosher, he asked Rabbi Bonnie Koppell, who has worked with several local Reform and Conservative synagogues and Jewish organizations, to edit it.
"I was very careful to make sure it was OK," Kopman says, and "paid very careful attention to tradition."
Koppell says she spent many hours back and forth working with Kopman. "Even though it was only intended to be 30 minutes, I wanted to make sure that nothing that I felt was essential to the seder was omitted," she says.
Kopman teamed up with designer Bil Yanok, a childhood friend from Brooklyn, N.Y., who, like Kopman, relocated to Phoenix about three decades ago. Yanok, a designer for Interactive Sites, an advertising company that works with five-star resorts, did all the illustrations and photographs for the Hagaddah, as well as built the Web site, 30minuteseder.com.
The Hagaddah is "much more contemporary" than a standard Hagaddah, "but we tried very hard to include the tradition," Kopman says.
Adds Yanok, "We set out to make an appealing book for all ages."
All prayers are in English - most are also in Hebrew with transliteration - and use "gender-sensitive language." Instead of the story of "The Four Sons," for instance, readers will find the story of "The Four Children."
Another noticeable difference with this Hagaddah is that the seder is designed to be completely finished before the festive meal, as opposed to the traditional Hagaddah, which keeps guests at the table for the afikomen, Elijah's visit, the fourth glass of wine and other elements that traditionally come after eating.
The "30minute Seder" has a "pretty broad market appeal," Koppell says. "It's ideal for people with elementary-age children who are going to be participating. ... But I also think it could work for a group of adults who don't have a deep connection to the tradition, who are maybe just starting out having their own seders (and) who may be overwhelmed or intimidated by a more traditional Haggadah."
The book uses a "colorful design to engage the kids - and actually, everybody," Kopman says, although he does admit that more traditional Jews may not be interested. "People either love it or want nothing to do with it," he says.
In January, he presented the Hagaddah at gift shows in California and New York and received almost 100 orders from gift shops around the country. About a month ago, he printed 10,000 copies, "and they're just about sold out."
Kopman and Yanok also created a line of products associated with the holiday: coloring place mats, seder table coloring place cards, full-color place cards and The Promised Land Passover board game.
"A new twist on an old holiday," Yanok says about the whole line of products.
These products are all available on 30minuteseder.com, which also offers large-print and downloadable versions. In addition to downloading the Hagaddah (a $16.95 fee for unlimited copies), visitors to the site can also download sheet music and recipes.
Kopman says that despite the name, the seder can take longer if one allows for discussion and singing. He conducted a mock seder with four couples and timed it. "We took our time, people asked questions," he says. Using a medium pace, it took about 35 minutes.
"We didn't want to just make a shorter seder, we wanted to make a better seder," he says.
By day, Kopman is an insurance broker. He is a member of the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center and the MOT2 (Members of the Tribe 2) networking group. Through this group, he met Becca Hornstein, executive director of the Council for Jews with Special Needs. After her presentation about CJSN, he approached her about using the Hagaddah as a fundraiser. A portion of the price for the Hagaddah purchased through CJSN goes to the agency and is tax deductible. (Call 480-629-5343 or e-mail Laurie@CJSN.org.) The Hagaddah, which costs $5.95, is also available at The Jewish Collection and The Jewish Quarter, both in Scottsdale.
On a side note, when Kopman and Koppell met to discuss the Hagaddah, they discovered they went to high school together. In fact, when Kopman pulled out his yearbook after the meeting, he saw that their photos were next to each other on the same page.
"Three kids from Brooklyn wrote this Haggadah," he says.