The Sarajevo Haggadah

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The Sarajevo Haggadah.pdf


The astonishing and unique SarajevoHaggadah was created in the middle of the 14th century, the golden age of Spain. We still do not know the exact date and place of the book’s creation or the name of the artist who illuminated it. Was it perhaps a wedding gift on the occasion of the marriage of members of two prominent families called Shoshan and Elazar, since there are two coats of arms in the bottom corners, one representing a rose (shoshan) and the other a wing (elazar)? Perhaps we will never learn.We do, however, know that in the eighteenth year after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, the Haggadah changed hands. A note mentions this fact but does not provide us with the names of either of the owners. There is another note, dated 1609, stating that the book does not speak against the Church, which saved it from being burned by the Spanish Inquisition. We know nothing further about it until it is mentioned in 1894. It is assumed that the manuscript came to Bosnia and Herzegovina either as part of a dowry or as a bribe, or simply as the property of those seeking sanctuary in Sarajevo, the “European Jerusalem”, where Jews have lived alongside other faiths since 1565. It was in this city that the Jewish cultural, educational and humanitarian society, “La Benevolencia”, was established in 1892, and when a certain Josef Cohen offered to sell it to the society, they found that it was too expensive. What is its market value today? No one is certain. The estimates have been as high as 700 million US$, but this was probably a misprint for 7 million. It was bought for 150 Crowns (the equivalent of around $10,000) by the National Museum in Sarajevo (Zemaljski muzej), which was established in 1888.The manuscript was then sent to Vienna for an expert assessment, and was returned to Sarajevo a few years later. It is somewhat astonishing that the Austrians did not keep it for their own museum, but whether they returned it because Sarajevo was part of the Monarchy or it was the act of honest professionals, we are still grateful to them a hundred years later.

Sarajevo Haggadah today is being held in a special room. With strictly defined temperature and humidity in the National Museum in Sarajevo.

A complete set of half page plates in Gothic style depicts the entire biblical story from Genesis through Deuteronomy. Thus, in its main feature, the Sarajevo Haggadah is an ... The Haggadah (Hebrew: הַגָּדָה ‎, "telling"; plural: Haggadot) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder.Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to each Jew to "tell your son" of a story from the Book of Exodus about Israelites being delivered from slavery, involving an Exodus from Egypt through the hand of Yahweh in the Torah ... The Sarajevo Haggadah represents an exquisite example of the medieval Hebrew illuminated and decorative art.