The Sarajevo Haggadah

Study by Jakob Finci, with explanations by Eugen Mosha Verber

Rabic Sarajevo, 2010.

24 cm, 288 str.

meki povez, latinica

ISBN: 9789958330377

This exclusive facsimile has been created in collaboration with the National Museum, Sarajevo, custodian of the original manuscript. The astonishing and unique Sarajevo Haggadah 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 Haggadah was never publicly displayed. It was always kept in a special place and was available for viewing only to the select few. It was not seen, yet everyone knew about it. Through the joint efforts of the UN Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, our Jewish Community, the National Museum and several donors, in 2002 a room with special security was opened so that the Haggadah could finally be on permanent public display. \ Jakob Finci President of the Jewish Community of Bosnia & Herzegovina Sarajevo \

$200.00 -