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Passover Resources, from the Rose Family Seder Books to the Seder Plate

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From the beautiful Rose Family Seder Books to preparing a seder plate, the Library has something for everyone.

Learn about the holiday of Passover through the magnificent artwork now on display in the Rose Family Seder Books, generously donated by the Rose Family to the Dorot Jewish Division. Stop by the McGraw Rotunda on the third floor of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to view the recently completed fourth volume in this series of unique books featuring over sixty years of Passover-themed artwork.

"Echad mi yodea," Barbara Wolff, 2012
"Echad mi yodea," Barbara Wolff, 2012

An interactive monitor accompanies the display, allowing viewers to explore the fourth volume’s pages for the first time. These stunning volumes will be on display from April 15–May 8, 2016.

In Jewish tradition, a seder (ritual meal) is held on the eve of Passover (this year, Friday, April 22).

The traditional book of the seder is the haggadah (Hebrew for “telling”), which Encyclopedia Judaica calls “a set form of benedictions, prayers, midrashic comments and psalms recited at the seder ritual on the eve of Passover.”

Hundreds of Haggadot

Hamburg Haggadah (1731)
Hamburg Haggadah (1731). Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 1244021

From old favorites to stunning rare editions, NYPL’s outstanding haggadah collection includes hundreds of titles representing diverse geographic and linguistic traditions and time periods: Aramaic (Jerusalem, 1986), Amharic (Jerusalem, 1984), Danish (Berlin, 1922), Dutch (Amsterdam, 1941),  English (London, 1787, online), French (Bordeaux, fascimile 1813), German (New York, 1857), Hungarian (Budapest?, 1942), Judeo-Arabic (Tunisia, 1938), Judeo-Italian (Venice,1609), Ladino (Amsterdam, 1695), Marathi (Bombay, 1891), Polish (Kraków, 2002), Portuguese (São Paulo, 1950), Russian (New York, 1979), Samaritan Aramaic (Tel Aviv, 1958?), Spanish (Buenos Aires, 1943), Swedish (1983, Stockholm), and Yiddish (Offenbach, 1795). For more, look at one of our haggadah bibliographies.

Among the most visually fascinating are a facsimile of the Birds Head Haggada, the oldest surviving Ashkenazi illuminated haggadah (S. German, c. 1300), which used bird heads in place of human heads in its illustrations, explored in Professor Mark Epstein’s book; and the stunningly beautiful Szyk Haggadah by Polish-born Arthur Szyk, an artist known for his virtuosic works and provocative satires.

Szyk Haggadah
The Szyk Haggadah


Familiar classics include the once-ubiquitous Maxwell House Haggadah; the Survivors’ Haggadah, created in the aftermath of World War II; the secular Yiddish and English Workmen’s Circle Haggadah, and the Sephardic Passover Haggadah by Rabbi Marc D. Angel with special commentaries and songs. In keeping with the haggadah’s emphasis on liberation, the Library’s collection also includes haggadot associated with vegetarianism (Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb), feminism (The Women’s Haggadah), lesbianism (A New Haggadah: A Jewish Lesbian Seder) and social justice (The Shalom Seders), not to mention the timely topical haggadot available online such as the Mixed Multitudes: Nobody’s Free ’til Everybody’s Free, A Racial Justice Haggadah and the  #BlackLivesMatter Haggadah Supplement compiled by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

46 ways to better Passover meals
46 ways to better Passover meals. Cookbook by Planters Hi Hat Peanut Oil. Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 4063339

Passover Cooking

With about 100 cookbooks for Passover alone, in 6 languages, you can find something for everyone here. The Dorot Jewish Division’s cookbook collection, built in large part by the late Roberta Saltzman, includes about 2,700 Jewish cookbooks, many of them community publications from far-flung locales. Some food companies even published their own Passover cookbooks, such as Borden’s Farm Products (1948, pictured below), Planter’s Peanut Oil (1940s, 46 Ways to Better Passover Meals, see illustration) and Rokeach’s Savory Passover Recipes.

Passover cook book
Passover cook book, courtesy of Borden’s Farm Products, 1948. Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library. Image ID: 4050239

Do you need Passover cooking for special diets? You can get vegetarian, healthy, gluten-free, non-gebrochts, free of wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts and fish, no cholesterol or even no potato Passover cookbooks, find recipes for kids, explore regional cooking (Yemenite, Hawaiian, international) or simply find matzah recipes).

 the matzo family

Speaking of matzah, don’t forget to check out Manischewitz: The Matzo Family: The Making of an American Jewish Icon, by Laura Manischewitz Alpern, a fascinating history of America’s best-known matzah and Passover products company. Manischewitz also sponsored Bay tate-mames tish (Around the Family Table), a Yiddish radio melodrama by Nahum Stutchkoff, whose archives reside in NYPL. Read or listen to episodes, including on the wonderful Yiddish Radio Project website. The programs were accompanied by Stutchkoff’s highly creative commercials for matzah, including his famous Manischewitz Matzo jingle, with music by Sholom Secunda, where the matzah is “always fresh and always crunchy and snaps on your teeth.” Find more Passover-themed music in our catalog.

Visit us

Stop by today to view the Rose Family Seder Books (though May 8), and visit our reading room. Need books? Request in advance to save time: request offsite items through our catalog, and for onsite items call us at 212-930-0601 or email dorotjewish@nypl.org

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