‘Holocaust’ Haggadah’s Cynical Illustrations Still Bite

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.

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