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600-year-old Illuminated Haggadah Presented to Jewish Seminary

March 30, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish Theological Seminary announced acquisition of a unique, 600-year-old manuscript Haggadah, presented by anonymous donors who reportedly paid more than $10, 000 for the manuscript.

Only one of 15 such hand-written Haggadot are known to be in existence. The incomplete Haggadah is considered to be a most important example of the work of the medieval book illustrator in Spain. The manuscript was understood to have been created in 13th Century Spain, but its whereabouts during most of the succeeding centuries is unknown. It was last reported to be in private hands in Israel.

The artist left many illuminated illustrations for the polished parchment pages of the 86-leaf book undone or in various stages. Because it bears a Papal Censor’s stamp, the Haggadah was demonstrated to have been in northern Italy in the early 17th Century, in Prague in 1938 and in Jerusalem in 1951. Menachem Schmelezer, associate librarian of the Seminary, said the new acquisition was “one of the most remarkable examples of medieval book artistry of its kind.”

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