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BOOKS A New Venice Haggadah

haggadahBy Rossella Tercatin

Among the ancient early printed Haggadot, the Venice Haggadah of 1609 is one of the most beautiful and fascinating. Over 400 years later, a group of international Jewish artists are working on a new Venice Haggadah. It is one of the initiatives marking the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the city’s Ghetto, the first in history.

“In 1609 the printer Israel ha-Zifroni of Guastalla designed an edition of the Passover Haggadah with completely new illustrations. The Haggadah was printed for him in the printing house of Giovanni da Gara in Venice. The Haggadah appeared simultaneously with translations in Judeo-Italian, Judeo-Spanish and Judeo-German, the languages of the Jewish communities living in Venice at the time,” as it is explained during the presentation at the Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art in Jerusalem, where a copy of the Haggadah is on exhibit.

The project of The New Venice Haggadah has been launched by the organization Beit Venezia, devoted to preserve and promote the city’s Jewish cultural heritage, with the cooperation of the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica di Venezia (International School of Design of Venice). The team of artists is lead by Londoner Jacqueline Nicholls, who defines herself as “fine artist who uses art to explore traditional Jewish ideas in untraditional ways.” Among the participants are American-Israeli Andi Arnovitz and Josh Baum, who focuses his works on the relationship between mysticism and art. There is as well the graphic designer Nathan Gotlib, painter Yael David Cohen, poet Sophie Herxheimer, illustrator Kyra Munk Matustik, and mural artist Hillel Smith.

The Haggadah will be printed in Jerusalem and is to be ready before Passover 2017.