Friday, January 14, 2011
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
I found the historical chapters much more interesting than Hannah's, but thought they were a good way to tie-in all the adventures that this amazing book may have had, and all the history it has witnessed. A truly engaging book from start to finish, and I learned much of the fate of Jews in Europe in history earlier than WW2. I also learned a little about the process of book conversation and preservation, and how much the materials used to make books have changed in the last 500 years.
What is a Haggadah? s It is a Jewish religious text that sets out the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah is a fulfillment of the scriptural commandment to each Jew to "tell your son" about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah. ("And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the LORD did for me when I came forth out of Egypt. "
As of 2006[update], the oldest complete readable manuscript of the Haggadah is found in a prayer book compiled by Saadia Gaon in the tenth century. The earliest known Haggadot (the plural of Hagaddah) produced as works in their own right are manuscripts from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries such as "The Golden Haggadah" (probably Barcelona c. 1320) and the "Sarajevo Haggadah" (late fourteenth century). It is believed that the first printed Haggadot were produced in 1482, in Guadalajara, Spain; however this is mostly conjecture, as there is no printer's colophon. The oldest confirmed printed Haggadah was printed in Soncino, Italy in 1486 by the Soncino family.
The Sarajevo Haggadah is handwritten on bleached calfskin and illuminated in copper and gold. It opens with 34 pages of illustrations of key scenes in the Bible from creation through the death of Moses. Its pages are stained with wine, evidence that it was used at many Passover Seders. In 1991 it was appraised at US$7 million
Other Books to Consider: The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier, Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, and The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber.