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By Israel Drazin
The Bird’s Head Haggada
By K. Mosele and L. Birkinshaw
The Israel Museum and Koren Publishers, 2012, 66 pages
This very clever, instructive, and colorful pop-up edition of the Passover Haggada is adapted from one of the oldest illustrated Haggadot in the world, published in Germany around 1300 and now held by the Israel Museum. The images depict the Exodus from Egypt, the many miracles recorded in the Bible that occurred at that time, the preparations for the Passover Seder meal that commemorates the exodus, and the many Seder practices that are designed to encourage participation in recalling the ancient event. The unusual pop-up presentation is designed to draw children and adults to the use of this Haggada, enjoy the strikingly colorful pictures, have fun playing with the pull-outs, and thereby participate in the recollection of the exodus.
The word Haggada and its plural form Haggadot mean “telling,” and the festive meal called Seder, means “order.” Both suggest the carefully orchestrated order that the ancient rabbis devised and the practices they placed in the Seder to draw the interest of adults and children to remember and speak about the biblical exodus. They were successful. Both observant and non-observant Jews enjoy celebrating Passover with the Seder, and even many non-Jews enjoy coming to a Seder and participating in the dramatization of a biblical event that preceded and influenced Christianity and Islam.
The recollection of the exodus is one of the principle Torah lessons that Jewish tradition repeats often. It is mentioned during the celebration of virtually every holiday. Even the second version of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 associates the Sabbath with the Egyptian exodus. The story of the exodus reminds the Jew to treat all people fairly. The Torah admonishes the Israelites to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt and certainly did not enjoy being mistreated. The Torah mandates that Jews love the stranger an unusual 36 times. This message is especially emphasized during Passover which commemorates the date when the Israelites left Egypt.
This Haggada contains the entire Seder service. The pop-up pictures show bird-like people dressed in the clothes of the Middle Ages baking matzot (unleavened bread}, preparing some special Seder foods, an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite slave, each of the ten plagues God with which God punished the Egyptians who are also depicted bird-like, the exodus from Egypt, preparing the Pascal lamb, the Seder, and the song Had Gadya.