Feast for the eyes;Books

3rd April 1998 at 01:00
THE ILLUMINATED HAGGADAH. Edited with commentary by Rabbi Dr Michael Shire. Frances LincolnBritish Library. pound;17.99.

The wine stains and scattered crumbs on the pages of The Illuminated Haggadah are evidence that the medieval manuscripts collected for this edition of the story of the Exodus were put to use by generations of Jews at family Passover gatherings.

And the intricate illustrations gathered from six versions of the story would have helped children to survive the long symbolic seder meals until it was time for a song. See the Israelites building Pharaoh's tower from the Barcelona Haggadah (above) and the plague of frogs from the Golden Haggadah.

A commentary by the book's editor, Rabbi Dr Michael Shire, director of the London Centre for Jewish Education, puts the story into context for modern Jews and non-Jews of all ages. Published in time for the first night of Passover on April 10, which is also Good Friday.

Geraldine Brennan

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