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Catalogue of Seder Night 'Handbook'

exodus-200 Album of Haggadot

Exodus from Egypt in Days of Yore
costs NIS 150
available from Aviram Paz
at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A detail from a hand-drawn placard created in Bergen-Belsen, after the former concentration camp was turned into a reception center for displaced persons, adorns the hardcover of an album/catalogue of Haggadot Pesach published in 2018.

Entitled Exodus from Egypt in Days of Yore, in Recent Times, the album, compiled by Israeli collector Aviram Paz and featuring Haggadot from his extensive personal collection, was originally published in Hebrew a few years ago and is now available in English.

The lower section of the placard on the hardcover album depicts displaced persons in Bergen-Belsen with their hands outstretched toward Jerusalem, the top part of the placard a scene from the City of Gold. Among the DPs, a uniformed soldier, a Magen David on his helmet, stands tall among them as he points the way—through torn barbed wire—to the holy city the Holocaust survivors so yearn to reach.

Although mainly focusing on Passover Haggadah's from the 1940s, the 280 pages of well-written text and hundreds of color photographs opens with the 1915 German-language publication Kriegs-Hagadah.

During the First World War Jewish institutions and Aid Committees created this first-of-a-kind Haggadah, known as The Krieg (War) Haggadah, so that soldiers could properly celebrate the holiday in the military camps at the front.

The 63-page Haggadah was printed in the capital city of Moravia for the Jewish soldiers serving in the Austro-Hungarian army, photographs of Franz Josef, the Kaiser of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Wilhelm the Second, the Kaiser of Germany, gracing the top third of the cover, Kriegs-Hagadah in German appearing center page underneath which is written Haggadah shel Pesach in Hebrew!

The second item of Aviram Paz's fascinating album features a Haggadah created for Jewish soldiers just a few years later but serving in the British Army in India. On the cover of the 1918 printed Haggadah appears the following sentence, part of which in lower casing and part in capital letters, "Copies can be Obtained Free of Charge from the Supervising Officer for Jewish Soldiers in India, Fort William, Calcutta."

The introduction at the beginning of this Haggadah reads: "Passover again finds us far from home and we must do the best we can to carry out the Seder—come let us try, while sitting at the Seder table, to read the Haggadah with uplifted spirits like our parents who are across the sea."

On the next page appears a prayer book for Jewish soldiers and sailors, dated 1916, containing "extracts from the Seder service for the eve of Passover" (in both English and Hebrew), the Haggadah beginning only on page 87 of the prayer book and therefore, one can imagine, not the smallest, or lightest, of items in a soldier's kitbag.

The lower portion of the prayer book for Jewish soldiers on land and sea states it was printed by - London, Eyre And Spottiswoode Ltd., His Majesty's Printers. 5677 – 1916.

A 5-page Haggadah printed on a hectograph, a gelatin duplicator only suitable for a small number of copies, was used by Company 22 of the Mandatory Palestine Jewish Infantry Battalion in 1943. Stationed at the Latrun camp in the Jerusalem Hills, the soldiers were accused by the British of smuggling weapons and ammunition from the camp, their punishment was a transfer to Egypt where they guarded the refineries in the city of Suez, subsequently celebrating the seder underneath Suez watchtowers.

By sending Company 22 to Suez the British violated their commitment that units of Jewish soldiers from Mandatory Palestine would contribute to their war effort only within or on the borders of Palestine.

Whilst Company 22 were celebrating Passover on the banks of the Suez, a 14-page illustrated Haggadah created for the Women's Auxiliary Service (A.T.S.) of the British Territorial Army was being read at the Tel-el-Kabir camp in that region.

Celebrating the liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt in a British Army camp in the same country, were women from three different companies, one of which was in charge of supply warehouses, another a company of drivers and the third, a company assisting at the hospital in Suez.

The last of the hundreds of rare Haggadah's featured in Exodus from Egypt in Days of Yore, in Recent Times, was printed in 1949, the first Haggadah published by the Command Staff of the Israel Defense Force Religious Service for IDF soldiers who participated in the first Passover Seder to take place in the IDF.

"After two thousand years of physical and spiritual slavery, this is the first time that we have been privileged to celebrate the Passover—the Festival of Freedom—in actual freedom; freedom as a nation, freedom as a state, and spiritual freedom," states the foreword of the 1949 I.D.F. Haggadah.

This year, since the creation of the State of Israel 70 years ago, many young I.D.F. soldiers and other Israelis serving their annual reserve duty, will not be joining their families for a Pesach seder, instead serving their country—so close to home but then again, so far away. 

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