The Pauker Haggadah

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This handsome Haggadah, bound in dark brown calfskin elaborately embossed with gold, resembles a rare tome of early engravings. The artist’s powerful, black-and-white image of the events portrayed and recited in the Passover Seder is evident from the very first page, where matza is being baked in the long communal ovens of olden times. Men, women and children participate in holiday preparations in a well-appointed medieval setting. Figures from the Biblical era – a simple shepherd, the High Priest – make frequent appearances. All is not reminiscent of the antique, however: a few pages into the book, the artist asserts his time and place with a very contemporary-looking tam (the “simple son”), in jeans and backpack, waving to readers from a modern urban balcony.


Every available space in this Haggadah is filled with a wealth of detail, from the delicate flourishes on ornamented Hebrew letters to the finely limned vignettes and full-scale drawings. Interspersed throughout the book are small lettered designs and large “carpet pages” which take Hebrew letters and phrases from the text and transform them into the graphic elements of a striking overall pattern. One of these, based on key words that outline the recital of the Haggadah, becomes the signature graphic of the entire volume, repeated in gold on the leather cover and on its spine.


The muted black-and-white scheme of this Haggadah is enhanced by accents of ochre, deep blue, and burgundy in both in the illuminations and the varied page borders – at times a simple, colored rule to balance a busy illustration, elsewhere a richly detailed, flowing frame composed of Hebrew script and baroque filigree. Lavish gold leafing adds further grandeur to the pages of this incomparable Haggada


On these pages: The Hebrew words of the Hallel (prayer of praise) is brilliantly designed into a black-and-white graphic design complemented by a graceful floral pattern and  accented by blue, burgundy and gold coloring. This stunning page of text more than balances the full-page illustration opposite, depicting Moses with the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Though Moses is the human hero of the Passover narrative, leading his people out of Egypt, his name is never mentioned in the text itself. It is perhaps in deference to this tradition that the artist portrays Moses at a time and place beyond the purview of the Haggadah.


Leather Bound on Paper

Leather Bound on Parchment

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