393 readers

The Luckiest Book In History Has Somehow Managed To Survive Three Genocides

Updated March 13, 2019 10 items

What do the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, and the Bosnian Serbs' siege of Sarajevo have in common? It's not just the disgusting attempt to cleanse a nation-state of an entire people; it's also the fact that a 14th-century book of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, the Sarajevo Haggadah, survived each event, from the 1492 Alhambra decree to the Bosnian genocide.

The Sarajevo Haggadah is an illuminated manuscript version of the Passover Haggadah that transcends its status as a religious artifact. Its centuries of survival came not only at the hands of Jewish believers but also at the hands of non-Jewish people who saw the value of the Sarajevo Haggadah beyond its being a 14th-century Passover Haggadah.

The survival of the Sarajevo Haggadah is an incredible true story that speaks more to the selflessness of some during times that epitomized humanity's deepest depravity than it speaks just to the interesting story of a historical text that lingers today.

  • Many People Are Critical That The Sarajevo Haggadah Is Not Accessible To The World Public After All It's Been Through

    Much controversy surrounds the accessibility of the Sarajevo Haggadah. Because the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina seems to be undergoing a lengthy renovation, the Sarajevo Haggadah is rarely on display. Furthermore, unlike other artifacts, the Sarajevo Haggadah isn't currently touring because it's difficult to transport the 14th-century book under ideal conditions.

    The hold up regarding the display of the ancient Jewish text is mainly a political stalemate. Museums in Bosnia-Herzegovina are not under local or federal control. As a result, museums barely get enough funding to stay open, let alone make the improvements necessary to safeguard the Sarajevo Haggadah.

  • There's A Geraldine Brooks Novel Dedicated To The Sarajevo Haggadah

    In 2008, author Geraldine Brooks wrote a historical nonfiction novel about the Sarajevo Haggadah, People of the Book. While Brooks did include an accurate history of the Sarajevo Haggadah in her novel, she also added imagined events regarding the ancient text.

    Brooks's novel follows her protagonist, Hanna Heath, a book conservator; it alternates between a story about Hanna Heath and the actual history of the Sarajevo Haggadah.