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  • The Sarajevo Hagaddah: Held Hostage in a Crumbling and Shuttered Museum

    Sarajevo Hagaddah

    Priceless 14th-century manuscript from Spanish Jewry’s Golden Age survived inquisitions and the Holocaust, but now sits trapped in the shuttered Bosnian National Museum, barred from public display

    BY ILAN BEN ZION for Times of Israel

    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina — One of the most magnificent Jewish manuscripts, a book that survived two inquisitions and a Holocaust, is sitting trapped behind closed doors in Bosnia’s slowly crumbling National Museum, held captive by the dizzyingly convoluted politics of the Balkan nation.

    The Sarajevo Haggadah, the most elaborately decorated codex remaining from Spanish Jewry’s Golden Age and today a keystone of Bosnia’s Jewish and gentile heritage, has been kept for the past two years from both the local community and tourists, despite grassroots and international efforts to put the treasure back on display.

    The Bosnian government, experts say, is seemingly content to let the Haggadah continue to languish behind closed doors.

    The book, which contains the story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt — retold each year on Passover — is remarkable not only for its beautiful design, exquisite illuminated text, master-craftsmanship, and rare drawings from pre-Inquisition Spain, but also for its own remarkable exodus story.

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