Commissioned by wealthy patrons in the Middle Ages, the Haggadot are among the most beautifully decorated Hebrew manuscripts. The “Brother” Haggadah—so-called because of its close, fraternal relationship to the Rylands Haggadah in the collection of the John Rylands Library, Manchester—is one of the finest of these to have survived. Created by Sephardi (or “southern”) artists and scribes in Catalonia in the second quarter of the fourteenth century, it sets out the liturgy and sequence of the Passover Seder.
This exquisitely produced facsimile of the “Brother” Haggadah is accompanied by an introduction by medieval scholar professor Marc Michael Epstein focusing on the historical background of the Passover and iconographic scheme of the manuscript; an essay on its provenance by Ilana Tahan, head of the Hebrew and Christian collections at the British Library; and an essay by Hebrew scholar Eliezer Laine that looks at the Shaltiel family, former owners of the manuscript.
The book also contains a translation of the poems and commentary in the manuscript by the late Raphael Lowe, former Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew at University College London, and a translation of the Haggadah liturgy.
This Haggadah…represents the integration of hand, heart, eye and mind in a way that enables us to glimpse the true genius of the medieval illuminator's workshop
— The Jewish Week
vibrant….spirited illustrations and handsome scribal work
— Jewish Book Council
first-ever facsimile edition of one of the most beautifully decorated Hebrew manuscripts
— The American Jewish World
Marc Michael Epstein
Professor Marc Michael Epstein is the Mattie M. Paschall (1899) and Norman Davis Chair of Religion and Visual Culture at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s finest scholars of medieval art made by and for Jews. His book The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and the Religious Imagination was selected by The Times Literary Supplement as one of the best books of 2011, and his most recent book, Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Manuscript Illumination, won the National Jewish Book Award for 2015.
Raphael Loewe was Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew at University College London and Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.
Jeremy Schonfield is Mason Lecturer and Supernumerary Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.