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Early Printed Editions

Guadalajara Haggadah
Printer: Solomon ben Moses Alkabez
Guadalajara, 1482

Earliest known printed edition of the Haggadah. It consists of 6 folio leaves printed on both sides in double columns but has no illustrations or vowel marks. The only known surviving copy of this incunabulum is at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.

Prague Haggadah
Publisher: Gershom ben Solomon Ha-Cohen and his brother Gronem

The earliest printed illustrated Haggadah to have survived in its entirety. The typography shows the influence of both the contemporary German "Block-letter" style of non-Jewish books and the Hebrew manuscript tradition of Central Europe. Sixty woodcut illustrations accompany the text of the Prague Haggadah, an enormous number for a Hebrew book of that period. The name of the artist is not known for sure, but the current hypothesis proposes that a supposedly errant shin represents the last name of a likely candidate, Hayyim Shahor (or Schwartz), who had been active in the Prague press since 1514. The illustrations include scenes and symbols of the Passover ritual, illustrations of the biblical and rabbinic elements that appear in the Haggadah text, and elements from biblical and other sources that play no role in the Haggadah itself but are associated by Jews with hopes of redemption. It is among the finest productions of the 16th century press. The illustrations above are related to the benedictions for wine, matzah, and bitter herbs.

Prague Haggadah 2

A medieval Jewish family at the Seder table. What makes this illustration particularly noteworthy, is the image of the hare on the plate in the center of the table. The abbreviation composed of the Hebrew words, wine, sanctification, light, separation, and time-YAKNEHAZ-is a mnemonic aid for the correct sequence of the benedictions for the Seder. It sounds, however, like the German phrase jag den Has (hunt the hare). It was customary, therefore, to include hare-hunting scenes in many illuminated Haggadot. It is most unusual, however, to actually depict a hare on the Seder table itself since it is an unkosher animal and forbidden for consumption.

  Venice Haggadah
Facsimile, Makor, 1974
Printer: Israel ben Daniel Zifroni
Venice, 1609

The Venice Haggadah of 1609 is one of the most beautiful early printed Haggadot. The compositional conception of this edition differs from its precursors in the monumental layout of the page. The decorated frame consists of two columns crowned by a pediment, and a text illustration at the bottom of the page. Several pages feature two larger pictures with a picture at the top in place of the arch. It is not known who the designer of the Venice Haggadah was. The printer, Israel ben Daniel Zifroni, however, was a well known publisher during the last quarter of the 16th century having printed books in Basel, Freiburg, and in Venice from 1588.

The image at the bottom depicts Elijah the prophet leading the way for the Messiah who is arriving at the gates of Jerusalem (Malachi 3:24).

Special Exhibit on the Venice Haggadah  
Amsterdam Haggadah
Facsimile, Makor, 1972
Illustrator: Abraham ben Jacob
Printer: Solomon ben Joseph
1695, 1712

In 1695 there appeared in Amsterdam a new edition of the illustrated Haggadah which followed closely the example of the then accepted Venetian prototype. The technique of copper engraving made possible illustrations that were much more refined and detailed . The artist was Abraham ben Jacob, a convert to Judaism. Another interesting feature of this Haggadah is that the first map of the Land of Israel in a Jewish publication was added on a folding page at the end of the book. The Amsterdam Haggadah gained great popularity among the Jewish communities of southern Europe and was widely imitated. As a result, it had an enduring influence on the Haggadot produced in the Ashkenazi world.

Above we see an artistic rendition of Jerusalem with the Temple at its center. It accompanies the hymn "Adir Hu" which expresses Jewish yearnings for the rebuilding of the Jerusalem.

Bordeaux Haggadah
scribe: Isaac Zoreph
Illustrator: Jacob Zoreph

This Haggadah reflects the affluence and position of the Sephardic Jews of France in the nineteenth century. A Sephardic community was established in Bordeaux soon after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal at the end of the 15th century, where they became well-established and prosperous. The artistic elements and the composition of this Haggadah are in the tradition of the Neo-classical Empire style of the Napoleonic Era. Besides the standard Sephardi Passover liturgy, there are instructions in Ladino, as well as some translations of the Hebrew into Aramaic. The text is divided evenly between Hebrew and French.

Above Pharaoh's daughter finds the infant Moses in the basket floating on the Nile with his sister, Miriam, watching in the background.

Trieste Haggadah
Publisher: Abraham Vita Morpurgo

The Trieste Haggadah was originally produced in two issues: one entirely in Hebrew, the second in Hebrew with an Italian translation. The only early Haggadah with illustrations produced by lithography, the Trieste Haggadah contains 58 original copper engravings from the artist K. Kirchmeyer, including biblical scenes which had not previously appeared in illustrated Haggadot.

On the left is a mid-19th century Italian Jewish family at the Seder table.

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