‘Holocaust’ Haggadah’s Cynical Illustrations Still Bite

April 15, 2014

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Arthur Szyk The Rabbis at B’nai B’rak (detail) Lodz, 1935 Watercolor and gouache on paper The Robbins Family Collection

Arthur Szyk The Rabbis at B’nai B’rak (detail) Lodz, 1935 Watercolor and gouache on paper The Robbins Family Collection

For world Jewry today, what could be a more contemporary take on the Exodus story than portraying the Egyptians as Nazis and the Hebrew slaves as European Jews? This vision, Arthur Szyk’s illumination of his Haggadah for Passover, is widely acclaimed as the famed Jewish activist artist’s masterpiece

First published in 1940 in London during the Battle of Britain, many around the world own a copy of one of the handful of subsequent Israeli and American editions of the book, and many more have seen reproductions of its artwork.

However, until a new exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco opened on February 13, more than 60 years had passed since the public last saw all 48 of the Haggadah’s uniquely stunning and powerful water color and gouache paintings displayed together.

Click here to read more and watch a video.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Modern Exodus: The Sarajevo Haggadah’s Musical Journey

April 14, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Detail of 'Maror' page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)

Detail of ‘Maror’ page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)

One of the millions of readers of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks’ 2008 “The People of the Book” was Merima Ključo, a Bosnian-born musician who left Sarajevo in 1993 during the Bosnian War. The novel offers a fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, the medieval Spanish illustrated manuscript whose survival was oft perilous on its 650-year journey from Catalonia to Venice, to Sarajevo, to Vienna, and back to Sarajevo again, where until recently it was on permanent display at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Like all Sarajevans, Ključo, 39, was already aware of the Sarajevo Haggadah. A prized national treasure that Jews, Christians and Muslims alike have endangered themselves to keep from destruction, the book is seen as the ultimate survivor and a potent symbol of the non-sectarian unity of the people of the Bosnian capital.

Ključo, a concert accordionist who performs with chamber and philharmonic orchestras around the world, decided that she, too, must retell the story of the famed Jewish manuscript—but through the language of music. The result is “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book,” a multimedia work, which is the 2013-2014 New Jewish Culture Network’s music commission.

Click here to read more and watch a video preview.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

‘Let My Children Cook’

April 10, 2014

This piece was first published on The Jew and the Carrot blog at the Forward.

Let-My-Children-Cook-cover-layoutDon’t worry if you are too tired to cook again after the seders this Passover. Thanks to a new cookbook by Tamar Ansh, you can let the kids take over the kitchen for the rest of the weeklong holiday. They won’t necessarily prepare fancy dishes made with organic and locally sourced ingredients, but with the guidance of “Let My Children Cook!,” they’ll be able to put together some substantial meals that they — and maybe you too — will want to eat.

“As a mother, I know what kids like to eat,” Ansh, cooking instructor and author of several cookbooks, including “A Taste of Challah,” told the Jew and the Carrot from her home in Jerusalem. “It doesn’t have to be a full-blown recipe. Chicken cacciatore braised in wine sauce is not for kids.” Although she had never written a cookbook for kids before, she knew she had to keep the recipes clear and short, with as few ingredients and steps as possible.

Officially, “Let My Children Cook!” (Judaica Press, 2014) is for children 8-years-old and up, but kids even younger can easily tackle these recipes with the help of a parent or older sibling.
Click here to read more.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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