Archetype and Adaptation: Passover Haggadot from the Stephen P. Durchslag Collection

Archetype and Adaptation: Passover Haggadot from the Stephen P. Durchslag Collection


Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery
April 5, 2012 – May 11, 2012

From the Middle Ages through the early years of Hebrew printing to the present day, the haggadah, or "telling," the book of prayers, illustrations, and stories recounted on the Jewish holiday of Pesach, has been continually recreated to suit the political, aesthetic, and communal demands of history. In the form of unique handwritten manuscripts and widely distributed printed editions, the haggadah has taken on a host of meanings, commemorating victims of genocide and celebrating nationhood, adorned with lavish biblical themes and written under dire circumstances. More than any other cultural artifact, the hagaddah embodies the adaptive genius of Jewish practice and the consequent vitality of Jewish religious life.

This exhibition, drawn entirely from the private collection of Stephen P. Durchslag, examines the persistence and influence of archetypal early haggadot as well as the elasticity of modern haggadot responding to political and social developments of the 20th and 21st centuries such as the Holocaust, secular kibbutzim, the nuclear family, disability rights, and feminism.

The Special Collections Research Center is located on the first floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library.

Lecture Series

Sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

All lectures take place in the Special Collections Research Center, Regenstein Library, at 5:30 p.m., except where noted.

Sunday, April 1
David Stern (University of Pennsylvania), "The Haggadah and the Jewish Imagination."

5:00 pm: Stephen Durchslag will give welcoming remarks in the exhibition gallery prior to the lecture.
5:30 pm: Lecture.
6:30 pm: The Divinity School is pleased to sponsor a reception following the lecture to mark the opening of the exhibit and the lecture series.

Sunday, April 22
Marc Michael Epstein (Vassar College), "Birds Head Revisited: Identity, Politics and Polemics the Birds' Head Haggadah"

Sunday, May 6
Vanessa Ochs (University of Virginia), "The Coconut on the Seder Plate: A biography of the contemporary Haggadah."

Sunday, May 13
Katrin Kogman-Appel (Ben-Gurion University), "Popularizing Books in a Manuscript Culture: The Visual Language of the Late Medieval Haggadah."

Wednesday Community Luncheon

Join us in Swift Hall on April 25th for a Wednesday Luncheon with Mr. Durchslag as our speaker. Reservations are required: more details.