New Haggadahs for 2011

New Haggadahs for 2011

Another classic revised, a scholar's commentary, and 3D glasses

Another old-new Passover haggadah out this year is a new edition of the famous Szyk Haggadah featuring the magnificent illustrations of Polish-Jewish artist Arthur Szyk. Set for publication this month, it has a newly commissioned English text written by Rabbi Byron Sherwin with Irvin Ungar.

A refugee from Nazi Europe, Syzk embedded Eastern European chasidic imagery in his intricate and highly emotional rendition of the Exodus narrative, creating the original version of his hagaddah in the mid-1930s. Jewish survival, which Szyk viewed as the pressing need of his age, also is the theme of his haggadah: The illustration on page 26, for example, depicts empires that have tried to conquer the Jews, from the Assyrians to the Inquisition to Nazi Germany, with the two tablets of the Law astride them all, signifying the perseverance, and ultimate triumph, of the Jewish people.

Arthur Szyk’s magnificently illustrated haggadah is being released this spring in its first widely available format since 1940. Courtesy Abrams

“Szyk was an activist artist,” said Ungar, a former pulpit rabbi who is curator of the Arthur Szyk Society. “He believed the Jews of Europe needed to be rescued immediately, and he was going to do whatever he could to motivate the world community to take action.”

“A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn,” by Rabbi David Silber with Rachel Furst, is being put out by the Jewish Publication Society.

If the Szyk Haggadah is gorgeous, this new work by Silber and Furst is thought-provoking, delivering new insights into the seder themes as well as first-rate commentaries on the liturgy.

Silber is an Orthodox Torah scholar and educator of wide renown, the founder and dean of the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He has been teaching these lessons for years, and here he puts them down on the page in a manner at once scholarly and accessible.

Furst teaches at Matan, a women’s institute for Torah studies in Israel, and is pursuing a doctorate in medieval Jewish history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This is a seder to study and discuss, but also to use – with the right crowd.

Speaking of the right crowd, kids are the target audience for “Passover Haggadah in Another Dimension” by Michael Medina, with artwork (sculptures and paintings) by Emi Sfard and photograph by Eli Neeman.

Published by Kippod3D, this haggadah boasts 3-D illustrations and comes with a pair of 3-D glasses that make the characters seemingly leap from the pages. Whoa, are those soldiers really drowning in the Red Sea?

There’s an English text, some Hebrew, and transliterations of the main attractions – the plagues, the blessings, the favorite songs. But this is really all about the images, which might make some adults too queasy to tackle the gefilte fish. It’s a gimmick, but a fun one.

Proceeds will be donated to the children of Hayim Association, which raises money for pediatric cancer research in Israel.

JTA Wire Service

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