New Bosnian reprint of sacred Jewish text, Sarajevo Haggadah

Sarajevo, Bosnian MapSarajevo - A new reprinted edition of Sarajevo Haggadah, a sacred Jewish manuscript, was presented Saturday in Sarajevo as part of a ceremony in the National Theatre to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The publisher, Rabic book house, reprinted Sarajevo Haggadah, translated into Bosnian and English, in response to a significant interest in the ancient book both in Bosnia-Herzegovina and abroad.

Sarajevo Haggadah, a sacred manuscript that celebrates the Passover, was written in Barcelona, Spain, between 1350 and 1370 by an unknown author.

Through rich picturesque illustrations crafted in gold and copper and painted in vivid colors in ancient illumination technique, the manuscript interprets the Old Testament with images of people and events described in it - contrary to Talmudic tradition.

The manuscript was also considered as a heretical document at the time it was made, as it was among the first ever manuscripts presenting the planet Earth as a round.

It is believed that the Haggadah was taken out of Spain by the end of the 15th century, during the exodus of Jews from that country. The last written reference to it was in
1609 by an inquisitor.

The exact route of the Haggadah to Bosnia remains a mystery, but it is believed that it appeared in Bosnia along with Sephardic Jews who made their home there after being evicted from Spain.

The manuscript was then lost, but it re-appeared in 1894, when the Bosnian Jewish family Coen sold it to the Bosnian National Museum in Sarajevo.

Since World War II, when the Nazis tried to hunt down the manuscript, which was carefully safeguarded by Bosnian non-Jewish citizens, the Haggadah had been exhibited only three times - in 1965, 1988 and in 1995.

Then in 2002, a special safe room was built in the Sarajevo-based National Museum, where Haggadah was exhibited along with other ancient Bosnian manuscripts. (dpa)