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ONE PEOPLE, ONE BOOK 5771

Transdenominational Community Learning Program


A SOURCEBOOK FOR
PEOPLE OF THE BOOK BY GERALDINE BROOKS
AND THE SARAJEVO HAGGADAH

Compiled and Published by


The Board of Rabbis of Southern California of
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
For ONE PEOPLE ONE BOOK 5771

One People One Book is a citywide year of transdenominational learning produced by The Board
of Rabbis of Southern California. Several hundred people from over 25 area congregations, plus
unaffiliated readers, engage in a year-long study of a significant Jewish book, connecting it with
traditional texts, through community-wide programs and smaller discussion groups. The 2010-
2011 program is the sixth season of One People One Book.

Editor: Jonathan Freund


One People One Book Committee: Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat, Rabbi
Mark S. Diamond, Jonathan Freund, Mayrav Saar.

The Board of Rabbis of Southern California


6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, California, 90048
323 761 8600  boardofrabbis@jewishla.org  www.boardofrabbis.org

Copyright © The Board of Rabbis of Southern California/Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, 2010. All rights reserved

Except for limited use in educational contexts, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written
permission of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
The Board of Rabbis of Southern California
gratefully acknowledges the sponsoring congregations
of ONE PEOPLE ONE BOOK 5771

Adat Ari El
Ahavat Torah Congregation
Congregation Kol Ami
Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue
Temple Beth Am
Temple Beth Hillel
Temple Kol Tikvah
University Synagogue
Valley Outreach Synagogue
Contents
Introduction 1
Rabbi Mark S. Diamond

The Heart of the Matter: Storytelling in the Jewish Tradition 3


Rabbi Miriyam Glazer

Reviving Survival 7
Miriam Philips

About the Sarajevo Haggadah 13


Jakob Finci

History Turned on its Head 17


Edward Serotta

Another Jerusalem 19
Joshua Ellison

A Timeline of the Sarajevo Haggadah 25

Discussion Guides / Lesson Plans 27

Jews Telling Stories 29

To Save a Life, To Raise a Child 31

Survival Shalem 35

Feathers and a Rose: The Clasp of the Haggadah 39

Art and the Haggadah 43

Appendix

About the Contributors 45

Geraldine Brooks 47

Additional Resources & Acknowledgments 49

About the Board of Rabbis of Southern California 50

Portions of this document may contain the name of God. If you print any pages, please treat them with respect
and dispose of them in an appropriate manner. Thank you.
A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

INTRODUCTION
Rabbi Mark S. Diamond
Executive Vice President, Board of Rabbis of Southern California

O ur tradition teaches that when even two people gather to study holy words, the
presence of God dwells with them. We are pleased that so many of us will, over the
course of the year, gather together to study words and ideas, learning from and with
each other and our shared tradition.

The Board of Rabbis of Southern California, as a multi-denominational member


organization of more than 320 rabbis, is proud to promote Jewish learning and living in
all areas of life: Social Justice, Healing and Spirituality, Professional Growth, Interfaith
Activities and Media Relations. Our One People One Book program stands at the core of
our Community Learning Initiatives.

We are delighted to share Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book as the 2010-11/5771
selection for our community learning series. Ms. Brooks is an award-winning author,
and her acclaimed novel invites us into the worlds of art, literature, history, interfaith
relations and more. People of the Book is one of the finest works of fiction I have read
in recent years, and I trust that you will share my enthusiastic endorsement after you
have entered its pages.

The One People One Book series is designed for a variety of educational settings,
including formal presentations; discussions in classes, book clubs and havurot; and
traditional hevruta (partnered) learning. We hope that this sourcebook will help you to
understand and appreciate the many Jewish and universal themes in these diverse
poems.

To guide your study and help you gain a fuller appreciation of the richness and
complexity of Geraldine Brooks' work, our colleagues have prepared essays and other
resources on People of the Book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, and other subjects. In addition,
for teachers and group leaders, we have developed a series of self-contained lesson
plans/discussion guides on the many rich themes in this novel.

Rabbi Miriyam Glazer serves as the 2010-2011 chair of the One People, One Book
program with the invaluable support and assistance of Rabbi Ilana Grinblat. We are
indebted to them for their devoted leadership.

We are delighted that you have decided to join us on this journey of learning. Mishnah
Peah 1:1 teaches us that there are many things in our world that are priceless, but the
study of Torah is equal to them all. Now go and study the extended Torah of our
people! 

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

THE HEART OF THE MATTER:


Storytelling in the Jewish Tradition
Rabbi Miriyam Glazer PhD
American Jewish University
Executive Committee, Board of Rabbis of Southern California

"In Bratslav, I personally knew the Bratslaver Hasidim, who told the stories told
to their fathers by the famous Rabbi Nachman. I knew those men who
remembered those stories as well as I know the hand in front of my face…Those
were stories that made the stars come into your mouth so you could taste
them."

A story could do that? My grandfather… believed a story could do that.

Anne Roiphe, Lovingkindness

F rom the beginnings of our people right up to the contemporary moment, the
telling of stories has been an essential aspect of who we Jews are and, indeed, it is
Jewish stories which have profoundly shaped western civilization. Think of it:
Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Cain murdering Abel. Abraham and Sarah having a
son in their old age – and Abraham nearly slaying his son Isaac on a mountaintop.

The destruction of Sodom. Jacob stealing the


birthright – and the heartrending cry of the
betrayed Esau, "Have you no blessing for me,
father?" Joseph and the amazing technicolor
dreamcoat, Moses the infant floating among the
reeds guarded by his loyal sister Miriyam; Moses
the stutterer, standing before the absolute
monarch of Egypt insistently declaring, "Let my
people go." Even the giving of our laws takes
place within the framework of story: our people
in the desert, gathered at the foot of Sinai,
receiving, engraved on stone tablets, the word
of God.

And then…Moses, at the end of his life, climbing


to the summit of Mount Pisgah in his old age to
look upon the Promised Land he himself will
never enter.

Such rich, resonant, riveting stories have furnished the images and the themes through
which, on the most profound of levels, poets and writers, prophets and presidents,
rabbis and preachers, social activists and psychologists, have sought to grasp the

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

intricate byways of what it means to be human. Who does not remember David facing
down the giant Goliath with only his slingshot, or Solomon suggesting that the baby
both women claimed as their own be cut in half? In some of the most violent days of
the struggle for civil rights, as African Americans faced the beatings by Bull Connor and
his minions, Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, stood up in a Memphis church and
sensed it was the story of Moses that most powerfully furnished the language for his
own feelings: "Like anybody," he said, " I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its
place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's
allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised
Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people,
will get to the Promised Land!"

Long after the Bible was completed, the rabbis of both the land of Israel and Babylonia
expressed their deepest beliefs not through "theology or history, biography, or
autobiography," says Prof. Shaye Cohen. "Instead they told stories," he says. The
rabbinic storytelling tradition was captured in the midrashim compiled by both the
Tanna'im and the Amora'im – the rabbis who lived before 200 CE, and those who lived
between 200-400 CE. The tannaitic midrashim offer scriptural interpretations of
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; many of the midrashim of the Amoraim
originated as sermons preached in synagogues, and many, too, are included in the
Talmud, which is rich with many, many stories.

Through the telling of stories, the rabbis transmitted their ethical and spiritual
convictions and expressed "fundamental tensions of rabbinic life and rabbinic culture,"
says Prof. Cohen. The problems they addressed in and through their stories may sound
very contemporary: how to balance their commitments to their family and their passion
for their work? What percentage of their time should be devoted to community service?
How should they relate to government (i.e. secular) authority? How should they relate
to colleagues who flaunt their values, or challenge their points of view, or seem to
behave outrageously? How do you let go of a grudge? Who is holier – the person with
an esteemed position in the religious community, or the simple teacher who patiently
and persistently comes to the aid of poor students, and students who have difficulty
learning?

In later centuries, Hassidic wisdom tales


expanded on this tradition, as did the numerous
secular Jewish writers who explored similar
themes in fables and fiction: the Chelm folktales,
the legendary Golem of Prague (the origin for
Frankenstein), the Tevye stories of Sholom
Aleichem, the works of I.L. Peretz, Itzik Manger,
I.B. Singer and other Yiddish masters, and
modern writers as diverse as Philip Roth, Chaim
Potok, Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, and Woody

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

Allen. And there are the countless Jewish writers who embraced and popularized new
storytelling forms, such as musical theater and the situation comedy. These storytellers
also follow in the traditions of the Torah, the Bible and midrash.

But of all of our stories, there is one in particular that, more than any other, marks the
Jewish people. It is the story that lies behind the most often repeated phrase in the
Bible: "Remember you were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt." And that, of course, is the
story we tell every year, year after year, on the festival of Passover, the story behind the
book we call the haggadah ("the telling"), the story of our liberation from slavery, the
real beginnings of our people.

Based on rituals developed and described in the Babylonian Talmud, most of the
Haggadah we know and use today dates back all the way to the ninth century – the
earliest copy of a Haggadah we have, fragments of which were found among the vast
manuscript collection in the Cairo Genizah. The Haggadah belonged to Rav Amran
Gaon, the leader of the Jewish academy of learning in Sura, Babylonia, from 856 C.E. to
about 875 C.E. The first illuminated Haggadah, for Ashkenazi Jews, dates back to the
14th century; now in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, it's called the "Bird's Head"
Haggadah, because many
of the people depicted in
the book have a bird's or
animal's, rather than
human, head, so as to
avoid the prohibition
against "graven images."
From early in the fourteenth century comes the first Sephardic haggadah, "The Golden,"
and then, from a decade or so later, the brilliantly illuminated, world- renown Sarajevo
Haggadah --the Haggadah whose history, involving expulsion, oppression, genocide,
and two modern wars--is so brilliantly and imaginatively reconstructed in People of the
Book.

As a title, People of the Book has many meanings. It is, first and foremost, a book about
us – for ever since Mohammed, that is how we Jews have been identified, as the
"people of the book." But the "book" in our novel is not the Bible; it is, rather, the
Sarajevo Haggadah, the book whose very name means "The Telling," or "The Narration."
And how brilliantly Geraldine Brooks has told the story of "The Narration" itself –
creating a new story about the "people of the book," and a new story about the book
itself, by imagining centuries of history and the people responsible for ordering the
Haggadah, designing it, creating it, saving it, hiding it, preserving it, cherishing it,
honoring it, risking their lives for it, through the generations upon generations of
suffering, exile, and war.

In a sense, what Geraldine Brooks has done in People of the Book is bring our Jewish
storytelling tradition full circle – writing her own midrash on one of our oldest stories as
a people. 

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

REVIVING SURVIVAL
Miriam Philips
Rabbinic Student, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Rabbinic Intern, Board of Rabbis of Southern California

W hat does it mean to survive? The word "survive" or "survival" means simply
"to outlive" in its etymology (from Latin super + vivere). In its use, it often
refers to the most basic elements of existence—food, shelter, security.
Consequently, "survival" often connotes those most basic aspects of living which do not
include elements of meaning, beauty and spirituality. Thus, people might say of a
meaningless existence, "I was simply surviving."

In People of the Book as well as "Searching for Hope," the Nightline episode on the
Sarajevo Haggadah, the survival of the book is understood as symbolizing a much
deeper survival, a survival of an ideal, of a way of being human. The character of Amitai
Yomtov excitedly tells the protagonist, Hanna, about the revelation of the survival of the
Haggadah:

"Well, last night the Jewish community in Sarajevo had their


seder, and in the middle of it—very dramatic, they brought out
the haggadah. The head of the community made a speech
saying that the survival of the book was a symbol of the survival
of Sarajevo's multiethnic ideal. And do you know who saved it?
His name is Ozren Karaman, head of the museum library. Went
in under intense shelling." Amitai's voice suddenly seemed a bit
husky. "Can you imagine, Channa? A Muslim, risking his neck to
save a Jewish book." (People of the Book, 9)
In fact, this idea of survival as the survival of a core essence of meaning and being
develops as a theme of this book. In the climax of the Reconquista 1 story (the chapter
"Saltwater," pages 215-258), the Jewish character Ruti declares her determination for
her and her nephew to survive both in body and spirit, at a time when so many Jews
were willing to trade the "spirit"—their religion and culture—for the comforts of a land
and homes they knew. The Christian monarchs gave the Spanish Jews three options:
give up their belongings, wealth and property and flee Spain, convert to Christianity and
remain, or die, Ruti commits so much to the value of being Jewish that for a moment

1
The Reconquista was a several-hundred year effort by the northern, Christian monarchs of Spain to
conquer and convert the southern, Muslim kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. The Reconquista
culminated in 1492, with the complete annexation of Muslim areas and the expulsion of the Jews. For
most of the preceding 700 years, Jews had found the Muslim domains of the Iberian Peninsula to be a
haven of intellectual, artistic, and civic pursuits, and places of relative openness and tolerance. The
Christian areas were occasionally also areas of relative acceptance, especially in the few periods when the
Muslim areas were reconquered by fanatic Islamist regimes which persecuted Jews.

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

she even seems to jeopardize her nephew's physical survival for the sake of meaning,
when she immerses her infant nephew in the tugging ocean in order to convert him to
Judaism.
Lest we think from this incident that this all-important survival is only about the survival
of ideals, we have Hanna's mother, the book's chronic antagonist, to teach us
differently. Dr. Heath alleges that she lives according to her ideals, telling Hanna, "You
think it's for me? . . . It's not for me. It's for every nurse or female intern who has had to
put up with being belittled and demeaned, having her backside fondled or her
intelligence questioned. . ." (136) But Dr. Heath prioritizes the realization of her ideals
and her ambition over the welfare of other human beings. Dr. Heath leaves others to
raise Hanna. In the unfolding of the story about a book, the Haggadah, which is
ultimately about family, love and survival, Hanna's story unfolds as one in which she has
no loving family, and so stumbles around, trying to build her identity and find family,
often not even realizing what she is doing.
Though Dr. Heath is a successful, world-respected surgeon, in People of the Book her
character is a failure. Hanna introduces the reader
almost at the books opening to the subtle ways her
mother undermines her. The rejection of Hanna's A theme of People of
chapped hands (page 5) seems to be not just a the Book is human-
rejection of Hanna's chosen profession, but a
enabled survival in
rejection of Hanna's entire identity.
the face of human-
Brooks positions Dr. Heath as the antagonist, the created catastrophe.
anti-measure by which the reader can determine
what the survival of life, spirit and ideals really
mean. The reader might be tempted to admire Dr.
Heath, despite her failure as a mother, if not for her xenophobia. In a book that
celebrates connections and appreciation between cultures, a book that revolves around
another book, the Haggadah, that "bears witness" to the destruction of tolerant and
creative cultures (195), Dr. Heath is intolerant of others and uninterested in broadening
her understanding of different cultures. She is outraged that her conference has a
Nigerian writer as its keynote speaker: "we have to have some obscure African, in
Boston, when there are probably a dozen decent local writers who at least speak English
that they could have asked." (137) When her daughter points out to her, "Wole Soyinka
did get the Nobel prize for literature, Mum. And, actually, they do speak English in
Nigeria," she isn't interested (137). She calls Muslims "Islamics," and is outraged that
Hanna might be in a relationship with Ozren, who she assumes (correctly, as it happens)
is Muslim because of the part of the world that he's from . . . a part of the world that we
know is diverse and recently torn apart by that diversity (139). Dr. Heath represents the
opposite of "Sarajevo's multiethnic ideal."
When we meet Hanna, she is damaged by this broken relationship of her childhood. She
is not interested in developing a meaningful, romantic relationship. One former liaison,
Hanna tells us, accused her of "acquiring partners for casual sex and then dumping them
as soon as any emotional entanglement was required . . . because . . . no one had
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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

modeled a healthy, caring, reciprocal relationship in my life." (38) As the story unfolds,
Hanna reveals to us how others have inspired her to find meaning in her life 1, and to
slowly build relationships that replace the family she never have, such as the father-
daughter relationship she has with Prof. Werner Heinrich of Vienna. Still, it is clear that
these relationships are sporadic, picked up when Hanna is in her friends' cities, and left
without cultivation until a friend can help her with a project or she is in one of their
cities again.
A recurrent theme of People of the
Book is not only spiritual and
bodily survival in the face of
trauma, but human-enabled
survival in the face of human-
created catastrophe. The
challenges and obstacles to
survival in People of the Book are
not natural disasters or natural
death (with the possible exception
of the rabbi in Venice and possibly
Herr Mittl), but are human-
created disasters: the Reconquista and Expulsion, the Spanish and Catholic Inquisitions,
human prejudice, lust and greed in 19th-century Vienna, the Nazis and Ustashe, Bosnia's
ethnic war, and, more subtly, Hanna's own mother. The only way the characters survive
these catastrophes is through human connections: through the love, bravery, and
respect people show in their actions for each other.
Sometimes this is only a moment of empathy in two selfish people's lives, such as
between Herr Dr. Hirschfeldt and Herr Mittl: "And then, quite suddenly, Hirschfeldt
stepped out from behind the wall that years of training and experience had erected. He
allowed himself to be exposed to the broken, sobbing figure in front of him, and to be
moved, not as a doctor is moved by a patient, to a safe and serviceable sympathy, but as
a human being who allows himself full empathy with the suffering of another."
Sometimes these humane actions are the consistent actions of a person of love and
ideals, such as in the case of Serif and Stela Kamal, in the chapter "An Insect's Wing" or
Rabbi Judah Aryeh in the chapter "Wine Stains". In People of the Book, only valuing the
humanity of the other overcomes disasters created by inhumane but all-too-human
hatred, greed and intolerance. In Judaism, there is a term for correcting human-made
tragedy with care and good deeds. It is called tikkun, "repair"—fixing that which is
broken in the world.

1
"Even though I didn't realize it at the time, I now think those weeks on the mountain, watching the way
she [Amalie Sutter, the entomologist] looked at the world with this close, passionate attention, the way
she busted her butt just for the chance to find out something new about how the world worked, were
what turned me around and headed me back to Sydney to start my real life." (42-43)

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

For Hanna, the Haggadah is also about discovering the importance of human connection
and love in human life and survival. Her research into the Haggadah is the beginning of
the end of her pattern of dysfunctional relationships, as she (seemingly against her will)
falls in love with Ozren and hesitantly seeks a relationship that is more than casual sex
or sporadic friendship. Significantly, Hanna discovers her father's family in this journey.
Paradoxically, she finds her father's Jewish family as a result of the death of her
grandmother. Her newly-discovered relatives welcome her into the family at her
grandmother's funeral. All the pieces are in place for Hanna to build the kind of
relationships that enabled the characters in the Haggadah's history to survive. But in
order to truly build these relationships, she must end her relationship with her mother.
In some ways the climax of the book is this final argument with her mother, an
argument that pits two kinds of survival against each other: Dr. Heath's survival, which
prioritizes ideals over human life, and the Haggadah's own survival, which values one
human being saving another's life from a place of care. Hanna learns that her mother
chose not to save Hanna's artist father because, "I knew he wouldn't want to wake up
blind." (345) In this statement, Hanna's mother twists the value of survival in People of
the Book. Valuing the essence of her lover (at least as she understood it), she has missed
the potential of the human spirit to outlive—survive—tragedy and find meaning
through the strength of human compassion and human relationships. She denied
Hanna's father any chance to be a father, and Hanna to have a family. For Hanna, the
life she strives for and finally discovers is not just about the survival of her self. It's about
the discovery of herself, the flowering of a seedling not nurtured as it should have been,
finally finding a way to flourish.
In many ways, the Sarajevo Haggadah tells the story
of the survival of a seedling in the wake of a
hurricane. But, like Hanna, the last historical figure
we meet suffers not because of some Great Event,
but because of common cruelties: in Zahra's era,
slavery, rape and the objectification of women; in
Hanna's life, a neglecting and emotionally abusive
parent (who, ironically, is part of the movement to
end objectification of women).
Zahra's story embodies the twin ideas of survival of spiritual self and the "multiethnic
ideal" Yomtov referred to at the beginning. Zahra bint Ibrahim al-Tarek, we learn, has
been a slave much of her life. She regains her sense of self-worth once she enters the
household of a Jewish doctor. Indeed, it is not until he asks her for her name (deep into
the chapter) that readers even learn Zahra's name. She tells us,
The doctor has restored much to me, in addition to my name.
The work I do for him is important work, and I feel connected by
it to my father. Every plant, every diagram I make, I offer to the
glory of Allah in my father's memory. The doctor, although a
very devout Jew, respects my faith and allows for the prayers
and the fasts. When he saw me making prostrations on the bare
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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

floor of his library, he sent me a prayer rug even finer than the
one I left behind at the palace… (313)
In the respect and care the doctor and his wife extend her, Zahra can live as herself, as a
Muslim, and as an artist painting what she loves to paint and what connects her to her
roots. She rediscovers herself. She is almost living fully, surviving in the People of the
Book meaning of the word. At the end of this chapter, we get a taste of what a
completely whole Zahra might mean, when Zahra finally articulates a desire for
freedom. Just as Zahra's tragedy comes about because other humans enslaved her,
abused her and neglected her, Zahra's soul-survival comes about because other human
beings cared for her and recognized her human dignity, their common humanity.
As Zahra's, Hannah's and Ruti's stories reveal,
the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah is not just
one of outliving tragedy. It is about the
survival of something meaningful, real and
human in the face of forces trying to destroy
meaning. It is about the importance of one
human being caring for another and helping
another. In People of the Book, human deeds
of love and courage enable its characters to
survive human cruelty. The book is a
testimony to the importance of treasuring the human in the "other:" the Haggadah in
People of the Book is saved by Muslim Bosnians, a rabbi, Jewish women, and an Austrian
Christian who had served the Nazis and destroyed Hebrew manuscripts. The characters'
stories cry out that a human life is precious; saving it means a complete survival, of body
and soul. Indeed, the book itself is a kind of mi shebeirach, a Jewish prayer for healing,
where, in the presence of a concerned community, a leader prays for a complete
healing, a healing of body and soul. In the repair the characters of People of the Book
make by caring for and saving one another, they live out a global mi shebeirach, striving
to heal the world and its diverse people, body and soul. 

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

ABOUT THE SARAJEVO HAGGADAH


Jakob Finci
Ambassador of Bosnia/Herzegovina to Switzerland; Former President of the Jewish
Community of Sarajevo

T he astonishing and unique Sarajevo


Haggadah was created in the middle
of the 14th century, the golden age
of Spain. We still do not know the exact
date and place of the book's creation or
the name of the artist who illuminated it.
Was it perhaps a wedding gift on the
occasion of the marriage of members of
two prominent families called Shoshan and
Elazar, since there are two coats of arms in
the bottom corners, one representing a
rose (shoshan) and the other a wing
(elazar)? Perhaps we will never learn.

We do, however, know that in the


eighteenth year after the expulsion of Jews
from Spain in 1492, the Haggadah changed
hands. A note mentions this fact but does
not provide us with the names of either of
the owners. There is another note, dated
1609, stating that the book does not speak
against the Church, which saved it from
being burned by the Spanish Inquisition.
We know nothing further about it until it is
mentioned in 1894. It is assumed that the
manuscript came to Bosnia and Herzegovina either as part of a dowry or as a bribe, or
simply as the property of those seeking sanctuary in Sarajevo, the "European
Jerusalem", where Jews have lived alongside other faiths since 1565. It was in this city
that the Jewish cultural, educational and humanitarian society, "La Benevolencia", was
established in 1892, and when a certain Josef Cohen offered to sell it to the society, they
found that it was too expensive. What is its market value today? No one is certain. The
estimates have been as high as 700 million US$, but this was probably a misprint for 7
million. It was bought for 150 Crowns (the equivalent of around $10,000) by the
National Museum in Sarajevo (Zemaljski muzej), which was established in 1888.

The manuscript was then sent to Vienna for an expert assessment, and was returned to
Sarajevo a few years later. It is somewhat astonishing that the Austrians did not keep it
for their own museum, but whether they returned it because Sarajevo was part of the

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Monarchy or it was the act of honest professionals, we are still grateful to them a
hundred years later.

The Haggadah was never publicly displayed. It was always kept in a special place and
was available for viewing only to the select few. It was not seen, yet everyone knew
about it. One of the first objects that the German forces demanded after entering
Sarajevo in 1941 was the Sarajevo Haggadah. Thanks to the ingenuity of Mr Jozo
Petrović, the director, and Mr Derviš Korkut, the curator of the National Museum, the
Haggadah was not handed over. Obersturmbannfuehrer Fortner was quite puzzled
when he was told that a German officer "has just taken the book away."

"And his name?"

"How could we dare ask?"

In any case, the book was saved, while the lives of its former owners and many of its
enthusiastic readers ended in Jasenovac, Auschwitz, Gradiška, Jadovno and other
concentration camps. The Haggadah survived, but no one now knows where or how.
According to one version, it was hidden under the threshold of a mosque in a village at
the foot of Mt Bjelašnica. Another claim is that it was buried under a cherry or walnut
tree. It is more realistic to assume that it was
hidden among other titles in the museum's rich
library, as its nondescript binding would have
prevented even the most sharp-eyed visitors
from suspecting the real contents within the
plain cardboard covers.

Whatever the truth, after the liberation in 1945,


the Haggadah was back in the National Museum.
The first studies on it appeared and disputes over
its ownership began. The Supreme Court of
Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled that the Haggadah
was the property of Bosnia and Herzegovina and
that its custodian was the National Museum,
which ended the dispute.

The Madrid organizers of the Sefarad '92


exhibition, marking the 500th anniversary of the
expulsion of the Jews from Spain, requested that the Haggadah be sent for display in
this, the largest exhibition of Sephardic art ever. However, the Madrid Museum required
it to be insured for 7 million US$ and, because of the wars in Slovenia and in Croatia, this
idea had to be abandoned as the premium was too high. Thus, the Haggadah remained
in Sarajevo awaiting the coming war. This time, it was saved in a dramatic fashion. The
hero was Dr Enver Imamović, the director of the Museum, who, together with several
brave policemen and members of the territorial guard, rescued the Haggadah from the
Museum, which was on the front line, and transferred it to the vault of the National
Bank.
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While the war raged in Bosnia and Herzegovina


several newspaper articles abroad speculated
that the Haggadah had been destroyed or even
that the Government of the Republic of Bosnia
and Herzegovina had sold it and used the funds
to buy arms, all of which was untrue. By the
beginning 1995 the plight of Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Sarajevo was no longer high on
the agenda for media around the world. This
gave rise to the idea of refocusing international
attention on Sarajevo by using the Haggadah. US
Senator Lieberman declared that he would come
to Sarajevo for Passover if the Sarajevo Haggadah
were on the table. President Izetbegović and
Prime Minister Silajdžić accepted the idea and
the Haggadah was brought to the Jewish
Community building for Passover in 1995 under
extremely tight security. The event was reported
by news agencies around the world and quite a
few sent their reporters to Sarajevo especially for the occasion. It was breaking news on
CNN, though Senator Lieberman did not make it to Sarajevo because of the siege and
the closing of the airport.

Thus, the Haggadah was presented to the public


once again. It proved that we, in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, cared for cultural values created
in milieu other than our own, and at the same
time we achieved our aim of drawing world
attention to Sarajevo and to the Haggadah.. The
following year 12 million American viewers saw
a program on ABC Nightline dedicated to this
priceless manuscript.

Through the joint efforts of the UN Mission to


Bosnia and Herzegovina, our Jewish
Community, the National Museum and several
donors, in 2002 a room with special security
was opened so that the Haggadah could finally
be on permanent public display.

Reprinted with permission from http://haggadah.ba. A facsimile


edition of the Sarajevo Haggadah is available at this website. An
online page-by-page replica of the Sarajevo Haggadah may be
found at http://www.sarajevo.net/haggadah

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HISTORY TURNED ON ITS HEAD


Edward Serotta
In Sarajevo, it is Jews reaching out to save Christians and Muslims, providing
needed food, shelter and medicine.

B efore 1991, Ivan Ceresnjes and Jakob Finci were among Sarajevo's professional
elite. These 40ish men spent their boyhoods growing up around the Jewish
community center not far from the old Turkish quarter. After college, Ceresnjes
became a successful architect and Finci was one of Bosnia's leading corporate attorneys.
They had large families, roomy apartments and vacation homes at the beach.

But as Sarajevo Jews, they were born in


the shadow of history. Eighty percent of
this community's 12,000 members were
murdered in World War II, and nearly all
who survived did so because others
risked their lives to save them. Finci's
family had been hidden by Italians.
Ceresnjes' father fought with the
Americans in North Africa. Nine hundred
seventy Sarajevo Jews fought with Tito's
Partisans; 340 of them died fighting. Very
few returned in 1945 to rebuild their
Sarajevo Jewish cemetery, the second largest in Europe
community, but those who did carried
the lessons of the war deep within them. Half a century later, they put those lessons to
use.

Ceresnjes was elected president of the 1,200-member Jewish community in 1988. As


Yugoslavia rapidly disintegrated, he and Finci quickly strengthened ties to Jewish
organizations in the West, at the same time refusing to mix in Croat, Serb or Muslim
political circles. When community members asked which side they would be taking, the
two would respond, "We see only the good, the very good and the very, very good."
Perhaps they saw otherwise, but they have never said so publicly.

By the time Sarajevo had been encircled in May, 1992, the majority of its Jews had been
airlifted out by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which also helped
stock every nook and cranny of the community center with food and medicine. The
committee, which receives a large percentage of its funds from Los Angeles through the
Jewish Federation Council, helped Sarajevans set up a Jewish humanitarian-aid society--
La Benevolencija--with Finci as its president.

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Once the shelling started, Ceresnjes had his old local suppliers replace the synagogue's
windows with plastic. Propane stoves were set up in the lounge. A medical clinic was
built upstairs, and its doctors established barter relations with
every hospital in town. And as the war dragged on, when Jews
wanted out, Finci used his considerable negotiating skills with
Muslims, Croats and Serbs. One thousand Jews have left the
city on La Benevolencija's convoys. Finci also negotiated to
bring in food and medicine. Whenever he met the various
factions, he carried the same message: "We're Jews. This is an
ethnic conflict that doesn't concern us. We can help everyone.
But you'll have to let us." For some reason, they listened, and
are listening still. Croats, Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, the
U.N. force and the Bosnian government all respect Sarajevo's
Jakob Finci
Jews and allow their transports access.

Three years into this bloody siege, most Jews have left Sarajevo. This should mean that
the community has ground to a halt. Not so. Ceresnjes and Finci insist they have 500
members "with papers to prove it." One could question their math. But not when 350
people have a hot, free lunch at the community center daily. Not when 320 individuals
are given food packages to take home very week. Not when 40% of all of Sarajevo's
medicine has been distributed--free--from the synagogue. Not when six doctors and
nurses call on people at home, no matter if they are Muslim, Croat or Serb. Not when
community leaders bring in thousands of letters at a time from the outside world, then
phone Sarajevans who run across town braving gun fire to pick them up. And not when
54 volunteers--Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Jews--all come to work together in a faded
pink synagogue every day of the week.

For more than 10 years, I have been photographing Jews in Central Europe and the
Balkans. I have seen much that is sad, but I have also learned that even though the great
Jewish communities here no longer exist, those Jews remaining have come to despise
labels like "last Jews" and "remnant communities." After all, dignity is not predicated on
numbers. In Sarajevo, I have documented a tiny Jewish community as it opened its
doors to an entire city. In this war, Jews are not the victims. In this war, Jews are not the
oppressed. In this war, Jews are saving Christians and Muslims, wherever, whenever
they can. History--thank God--has been turned on its head.

Edward Serotta is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker specializing in Jewish life in


Central and Eastern Europe, and the Director of Centropa (www.centropa.org), a Vienna
and Budapest-based non-profit using advanced technologies to preserve European Jewish
memory, as well as to disseminate their findings in creative and innovative ways. He is
the author of Out of the Shadows, Survival in Sarajevo and Jews, Germany, Memory, and
has contributed to Time Magazine, The Washington Post, and other outlets. Between
1996 and 1999, he produced three films for ABC News Nightline.

This article originally appeared in the April 27, 1995 edition of the Los Angeles Times

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ANOTHER JERUSALEM
Joshua Ellison
Editor of Habitus: A Diaspora Journal

I n just a few hours, I had traveled the distance


between Sarajevo—Europe's Jerusalem, as it's
been called since Sephardic Jews first settled
there after their expulsion from Spain—and its
namesake in the heart of the Middle East.

I walked both cities' streets in the same day—the


two cities I know on the planet where churches,
mosques, and synagogues seem equally at home;
where almost every turn points you towards another
history, another ethos, another dream. These are
places where multiplicity and division seem to taunt
each other, where purity and synthesis make
opposing claims on the cities' authentic nature.

The displaced Spaniards who made their home in


Sarajevo saw reflections of the Jerusalem they knew
only in their minds' eye. Somehow the analogy stuck.
It's become a central part of the story that
Sarajevans tell about themselves and their city. In my
time there, I heard it repeated by Jews and Muslims
and Christians, by both locals and foreigners.

It's the kind of comparison I would normally resist: there should always be room in the
world for a Jerusalem, but how many can we take? Still, as much as both cities have
changed over the generations, you can see the commonalities. In fact, the congruence
has probably only deepened over time, and in ways that no one ever expected or
intended. As I spent time in Sarajevo, I found myself thinking more and more about
Jerusalem.

A familiar composition of shapes: domes and spires, points and spheres. A stubborn
disagreement between line and plane, where nothing meets at perfect corners. The
endless stone. The hills and valleys, the encroaching nature.

Both Jerusalems—Balkan and Levantine—are places with dramatic centers of gravity,


linked by neglected corridors. In either place you'll find the same kind of narrow,
crumbling passageways that always seem to be connecting, and yet somehow ending in
exactly the same place. You need only take a few steps off the most trafficked streets to
feel that you've walked over the edge of organized urban life. What lies beyond are
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intimate, derelict spaces. Not quite functional, not quite for public consumption. They
are filled with the spillover from the private realm: garbage, laundry, food scents. Just a
few feet, and you seem to have wandered off the map entirely.

And then, suddenly, you are somewhere. In


Sarajevo, it might be the Gazi Husrev-Beg
mosque—totally out-of-scale in its
surroundings but still obscured from most
angles (except for the spire; though in my
experience, it's never exactly where it
appears to be). You might be at the carved-
wood fountain at the heart of Bascarsija, the
old Ottoman market. Or maybe it's the
National Library—at least the charred
remnants of it, the extravagant shell—on the
banks of the Miljacka River. The Miljacka, during the day, is shallow and muddy. At
night, though, it catches the streetlight palette of gold, pale green, and ghostly white.
The river glows, charged like a current running through the city; the headlights of cars
streak past like stray sparks.

Both Jerusalems run a visual gamut from eternal to merely convenient. They are
palpably divided into old and new cities. The historic centers are cities-in-miniature,
packed closely with religious symbols and historical layers. In Sarajevo, the demure,
slanting stone structures of the Ottoman era abruptly give way to the grand and ornate
Austro-Hungarian buildings. Sarajevans say that their Muslim, Jewish, and Christian
houses of worship are closer together than anywhere else in Europe. Closer than
anywhere in the world, possibly, outside of Jerusalem. But Sarajevo's old city is really
the hub of activity—not walled off or frozen in time. As a result, Sarajevans navigate
daily—or, at least, sample at will—the city's ethnic and confessional matrix in a way that
Jerusalemites typically don't.

The newer sections of the two cities are mostly brutish, occasionally kitschy, always
hasty. Whenever they are built, they usually look gray and outmoded just a few years
later—they are not equipped for the passing of time like the old sections, which are
worn but still feel vital. Beyond the cities' iconic core, everything starts to feel like an
afterthought. Maybe it's just impossible to relate imaginatively to places like Jerusalem
or Sarajevo in the present tense—or to envision a worthy counterpart to the mythic
stature of what is already there.

Jerusalems are largely inward-looking places. They are host-cities, receptors, magnets
for visitors and attention. Both have been shaped by conquerors, exiles, marauders,
thrill-seek- ers, and true believers. The world comes to them.

In Sarajevo or Jerusalem, locals rarely distinguish between personal welfare and the fate
of the city as a whole. Each place is such a consuming and complete emotional

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universe—with manic swings between buoyancy and sadness, between higher callings
and bitter letdowns. To live in cities like these is something of a full-time job.

Sarajevo is known to the world today principally through the war that nearly destroyed
it. Like Jerusalem, it's a place most people encounter through the evening news,
somewhere they think of only with fear and bewilderment. For a first-time visitor, it's
hard to see past the calamities the city endured, beginning fifteen years ago, after the
collapse of Yugoslavia. Sarajevo was a place where the constituent ethnic and religious
groups of the region had cohabited reasonably well. As the Yugoslav collective broke
apart under separatist ambitions, Sarajevo (and the mixed but majority-Muslim Bosnia
in general) started to look like a dangerous anomaly. For the nationalists, blood was
destiny; people of different ethnicities or religions could never live and thrive together.
Sarajevo was the exception that threatened the rule.

The city was held under


siege for nearly four
years—all access to the
outside world was
blocked, and its people
and infrastructure were
systematically, almost
leisurely, devastated by an
irregular army of Serbian
nationalists that included
many of Sarajevo's own
citizens. All the vicious talk
about tribal difference and
destiny, about collective
memories of injustice and
peril, became more real for some than their own lived experience. These citizens could
suddenly see only enemies—their ethnic antitheses—as they fired down from hills onto
former neighbors, colleagues, friends, relatives, spouses.

Jerusalem, in its time, has also been besieged, coveted and targeted, wrecked from
within and without. But to survive in a Jerusalem, you learn to live a peculiar dream-life
that insulates from despair; you learn to fill in the gaps between ideal and actuality.

Sarajevans have an almost disconcerting ease with which they move through the wasted
terrain of their city. The streets are filled with fashionable people who carry themselves
with a kind of relentless civility. They walk in high heels over the craters of mortar shells;
they sit, drinking and smoking, in refined cafes inside of machine-gunned buildings. The
great Bosnian writer Ivo Adric wrote, long before this last war, that Sarajevo is "a city
that is both near its end and dying, yet simultaneously being born and growing." For
many Sarajevans, it seems, the tragedy of this war has already been assimilated into the
emotional narrative of their city—a part of its innate fragility and singularity.

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

This issue of Habitus returns again and again to the experience and aftermath of the
conflict. But this isn't typical war writing. The authors address this legacy without
sentimentality or self-pity, and with a minimum of despair (though all those things are
rightly due to them). With humor, drama, and imagination, these texts fulfill the words
of contributor Semezdin Mehmedinovic, who has described "that passionate artistic
desire to distill wild beauty from the spectacle of death." The writers also conjure the
city that existed before the mayhem, and the idea of Sarajevo that still exists in a hazy
convergence of myth, memory, and promise. Though they live all around the globe,
many of them dispersed by the war, the authors here are able to summon up all the
details and feelings of the city with perfect intensity.

A truly unique aspect of this volume—one


that confirms the distinctive culture of the
city—is the assortment of Muslim writers
who have chosen to address Jewish themes
and Jewish lives. There is probably no other
place where such an impressive array of
writers might attempt to span this particular
divide. But these pages offer several
powerful examples. Dzevad Karahasan
writes about "our Jews…whose arrival made
Sarajevo a complete world in miniature." Elsewhere, in a short story about a Jewish-
American student adrift in a sea of ephemera, conspiracy, and delusion, Muharem
Bazdulj explores a recognizably Jewish malaise with all the sensitivity and fluency of an
insider. The venerable poet Abdullah Sidran composes a tribute that even interposes
passages in Ladino, the private language of Sephardic Sarajevo. None of these works
read as self-satisfied political statements; they are, rather, superb examples of literary
imagination and empathy. There are no prescriptions here for easing Muslim-Jewish
relations in other parts of the world (and in other Jerusalems). But given the poverty of
voices that pass between the two sides, maybe it's enough just to intimate another set
of terms on which these groups can relate.

Likewise, you will read about the extraordinary wartime efforts of Sarajevo's Jewish
community, which opened its door to all the citizens of the city. Their generosity went
far beyond critical needs like food and medicine; they offered classes, cultural events,
even contact with the outside world. Community leaders like Jakob Finci, whom you will
meet in these pages, attended to their neighbors' humanity, in all its fullness, across all
sectarian lines.

On my last trip to Sarajevo, I went to hear a concert. It was a part of the city's annual
Winter Festival, which started during the 1984 Olympics and continued even through
the dire years of siege. I followed the crowds through the concrete expanse outside the
Skenderija cultural center, a bunker-like complex near the downtown. Many of the stairs
up to the Skenderija have collapsed—you could easily stumble off the jagged brink into
a ravine of brick, twisted rebar, and flattened cigarette packs. Inside, though, a
renovated concert hall was appointed like an Atlantic City nightclub: small round tables,
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white vinyl cushions, lavender and crimson lights, two bars on either end. Like almost
every other indoor space in Sarajevo, the room was thick with smoke.

On stage that night, a group of Korean musicians were seated in a semicircle, wearing
stark black and white. The music was austere, slight. A dancer accompanied on a few
numbers; glowing under a spotlight against a darkened stage, wearing funereal robes,
she could have been enacting the flickering moments between life and death.

Then the lead musician announced, in English, the evening's promised centerpiece: a
new song dedicated to the people of Sarajevo. The crowd—which included men with
expensive-looking glasses, bearded art students, and plenty of women wearing colorful
hijabs coordinated to tailored suits—all leaned forward together. The Koreans sang a
simple melody, in unison, in their own language. At the chorus, they repeated the city's
name again and again: Sarajevo. Sarajevo. Sa-ra-je-vo!

The audience, which understood nothing, erupted with applause. They were on their
feet. At the end of the concert, all the evening's performers returned to the stage and
played the song again. The crowd instinctively rose with a kind of reverence, like they
were hearing their own anthem. They sang along to the only part they could—their own
name: Sarajevo.

After everything, Sarajevans still have a deep sense that their city counts for something;
that their experience—all their suffering included—matters beyond the margins of their
own small world. They still say the name of their city like a kind of code: an invocation, a
bargain with each other. It may be harder today to agree on the meaning, but
Sarajevans keep speaking it incessantly.

As I walked out of the Skenderija and back towards the river, I thought of another line
from Ivo Andric: "From whatever corner you set your sights on Sarajevo—you always,
and without specific intention, think the same thing: that is a city." 
Reprinted with permission from Habitus 02: Sarajevo, March 1, 2007. Visit habitusmag.com for this and
other Habitus issues.

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A TIMELINE of the Sarajevo Haggadah


Historical accounts differ and some dates are speculative. Special thanks to Edward Serotta.

1371 The Hagaddah is created for a wealthy family in Spain, probably in Valencia, making it
the oldest-known illustrated Jewish manuscript. 1

1492 Owners likely bring Haggadah with them during expulsion of Jews from Spain.

1510 Handwritten note of sale on the last page of the book. Buyer's and seller's names are
rubbed out. The Hebrew script is in Italian style. 2

1609 Don Giovanni Vistorini, an Italian church censor possibly in Modena or Venice, makes
a note in the book, addressed to other church censors, that the Haggadah does not
need to be burned. 3

1894 Someone by the name of Kohen sells the book to the Landesmuseum (National
Museum) in Sarajevo, which then sends the book to Vienna for restoration.

1898 Haggadah is returned to Sarajevo in a speciall-purchased Wertheim safe, purchased


for its safe keeping. Die Hagaddah von Sarajewo is published in Vienna, launching the
manuscript's reputation as a masterpiece of medieval art.

1941 Nazi forces occupy Bosnia. German General Johann Hans Fortner demands the
Haggadah from Museum director Jozo Petrovic, who lies about its whereabouts.
Muslim scholar Dervis Korkut hides it; according to some accounts, under the
floorboards of a mosque outside the city.

1991 The Haggadah is discovered lying on the Museum floor following a break-in by thieves.
It is then placed in the old Wertheim safe.

1992 Bosnian War. During Serb rocket attacks on the Museum, the museum's director
Muhad Imamovic rescues the book by breaking through the old Wertheim safe's door
and bringing it to National Bank.

1995 Bosnian president displays the Haggadah at a community seder,


in response to rumors that the government sold the manuscript,
worth an estimated $10 million, to buy weapons.

2001 Restored through a campaign financed by the United Nations


and the Bosnian Jewish community.

2002 The Sarajevo Haggadah goes on permanent display at the


National Museum in Sarajevo.

1
Juame Riera Y Sanc, Chief Archivist, Crown of Aragon, Barcelona
2
Cecil Roth, The Sarajevo Haggadah: Its Significance in the History of Art, Izdavacki Zvod, Jugoslavija, Beograd 1973
3
William Popper, Jewish Books and Italian Church Censors, Columbia University 1899.
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DISCUSSION GUIDES / LESSON PLANS

 While the following Discussion Guides/Lesson Plans are designed primarily for
teachers or group leaders in a structured learning format, they may also be useful
and illuminating for casual readers or informal reading groups.

 Most of the plans are designed to be printed separately and to encompass a single
60-90 minute learning session. Depending on the nature of your group, they may be
combined or expanded into multiple sessions.

 We advise the discussion leader to review the plan ahead of time, to determine if
additional texts or materials (a whiteboard, for example) will be necessary, and to
decide how the lesson will best work with her or his specific group.

 Several of the lesson plans contain source sheets for distribution to the group. These
handouts follow their respective lesson plan.

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

JEWS TELLING STORIES


Discussion Guide for Group Study of Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book
by Jonathan Freund

As Miriyam Glazer writes in her essay, People of the Book is a novel about all of us. We
are the people of the book just we are natural storytellers. The novel's plot focuses on
the exodus of a famous Haggadah, a book which itself is a story about the Exodus of our
common Jewish ancestors, a story which we retell every spring.

CHAPTER 1: BEGINNING

The Torah and the Hebrew Bible are full of stories of bad parenting—including those of
the patriarchs and matriarchs whom we honor in prayer, and yet we continually retell
those stories. (See Miriyam Glazer essay "The Heart of the Matter" above for examples.)
People of the Book also tells various stories about bad parenting, most notably in the
relationship between the protagonist, Hanna, and her mother, Sarah.

 Why do you think those stories are included in the Bible and the novel? What do you
think we can learn from these characters and their lives?

 What is the difference between biblical texts—or the Haggadah—and fiction, and
what do they have in common?

The rabbis of the Talmud told midrashim, stories about Biblical figure, to explore the
meaning of the Bible by expanding upon it. Midrash attempts to fill in gaps, answer
questions, resolvie inconsistencies and also to challenge the Biblical text itself. Geraldine
Brooks uses the few known facts about the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah as a
jumping-off point for the multiple fictional stories in People of the Book.

 In what ways is People of the Book a midrash on history? Does it help us understand
history, like other historical fiction can? Or is it reckless to present fiction as history?

 What is the difference between truth and fact? What do they have in common?

CHAPTER 2: MIDDLE

Break your group into pairs. If you have an odd number of participants, one should pair
with the instructor. A group of three is not advisable, since a trio would need more time
to complete the section.

Each member of the pair will have 5 minutes tell her or his partner a story about
Passover from their past. Do not have any discussion between the stories: tell one,

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

switch, and tell the other. After each one has finished telling a story, explore the
following questions:

 What are the similarities and differences between your stories?


 How might the other people in your story tell the same story? What would the
differences in tone or plot or emphasis be?
 See if you can thematically connect these stories with a Biblical story, some part of
the Passover story itself, or to a story or section in People in the Book.

Gather the whole group together again. Go around the room for a brief report from
each pair on their individual discussion.

CHAPTER 3: ENDING (OR NOT)

Hanna Heath and her mother Dr. Sarah Heath do not remember some episodes the
same. The way the two characters remember events differently helps them create a
story of their life that makes sense. It is part of how they understand who they are.

 Do you remember things the same way as your parents or your siblings?

 What role does memory and storytelling play in defining who you are?

 Might your family members' different stories reflect a different narrative of each of
their identities?

 What role does being Jewish play, explicitly or implicitly, in your family stories?

Finally:

 What stories will you tell at your seder table this year?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

TO SAVE A LIFE, TO RAISE A CHILD


Discussion Guide for Group Study of Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book
by Miriam Philips
Rabbinical Student, Hebrew Union College

TO THE LEADER: Dr. Sarah Heath can be seen as representing values in opposition to those
symbolized by the Sarajevo Haggadah, both in its content and its history. She is bigoted,
egotistical, and self-absorbed, and she cuts off meaningful human relationships
including with her daughter Hanna. However, she is also a renowned neurosurgeon who
insists on treating patients rather than remaining in a lab; and she saves lives.

This session uses the character of Dr. Sarah Heath to provoke explorations of the Jewish
ideas and values of saving a life and parenting. Depending on time constraints and the
engagement and comfort of participants, you may elect to use all, some or just one of
the study texts provided.

GETTING STARTED

 Ask participants to briefly answer the following:

♦ Share some of the important values you learned in childhood.

♦ From whom did you learn them?

♦ How did you learn them?

HANNA & HER MOTHER

 As a class or in small groups read aloud the excerpt from People of the Book and
discuss the questions on the accompanying sheet.

 Explore the following as a full class:


♦ Hanna's mother made a choice between being a good parent and being a doctor
who saves lives on a regular basis. Do you agree with or understand her choice?

♦ Is it possible to be both a good parent and a professional dedicated to saving


lives, or otherwise helping the world?

♦ Which choice did you or would you make in your life?

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PIKUACH NEFESH (SAVING A LIFE)

PIKUACH NEFESH (Heb. ‫קּוּח נֶפֶשׁ‬ַ ‫" ; ִפּ‬regard for human life") is the term for the duty or
commandment to save human life in a situation in which it is imperiled. The danger to life may
be due to grave illness or other direct or indirect peril to a condition of health or situation which,
though not serious, might deteriorate and consequently imperil life. -Adapted from The Jewish
Encyclopedia, 2007.

As a class, read the texts in order on the "PIKUACH NEFESH: The Mitzvah of Saving a
Life" source sheet.

 In these texts, what actions does saving a life include?


♦ What other actions might be implied?

 How is "danger to human life" defined above, if at all?


♦ Is it referring solely to physical survival?
♦ Could the "danger" also be psychological, emotional or spiritual?

 Based on your discussion of these texts:


♦ How do you now view the choices of Dr. Sarah Heath, Hanna's mother?
♦ What about Hanna's actions and choices?
♦ What about any of the other characters in People of the Book?

BRINGING IT BACK HOME - Inheriting and Bequeathing Values

Connecting the relationship of Hanna and her mother and the concept of Pikuach
Nefesh to our own lives:
 What values of your parents have you maintained? What values have you rejected,
and if so, how and when?

 Did your parents ever unintentionally teach you values contrary to the ones they
tried to teach you? How often did their actions match their words?

 Which of those values will you/do you/have you passed on to your children?

 Is there any context in which Dr. Heath's "selfish savior" model could be right?

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HANNA & HER MOTHER


Handout 1 for "To Save a Life, To Raise a Child" Session

"… Don't tell me you've involved yourself with a Muslim? Really, Hanna, I
thought I'd raised you as enough of a feminist to draw the line at that."

"Raised me? You?" I slammed the envelope down on the desk. "You didn't
raise me, unless you count signing checks to housekeepers."

She'd been gone when I woke in the morning and rarely back before my
bedtime. My most vivid early memory of her was tail-lights in the driveway in the
middle of the night…. Greta, the housekeeper, would say, "Don't you know your
mother is saving someone's life tonight?" And I would feel guilty for wishing she was
home, in the next room, where I could crawl into bed beside her. Her patients
needed her more than I did. That's what Greta said. (People of the Book, p. 139)

"To know that you have a person's thoughts, their personality, under your
fingertips and that your skill-- I don't just save lives, Hanna. I save the very thing
that makes us human. I save souls." (People of the Book, p. 207)

 What do you think of the trade-off has Hanna's mother made between her
daughter's well-being and her patients' souls?

 What values might Hanna have learned from her mother? How might these
values be different from or similar to values the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah
conveys?

 Now compare Dr. Sarah Heath as depicted above to another doctor, Franz
Hirschfeldt in this passage from the "Vienna 1894" chapter.

And then, quite suddenly, Hirschfeldt stepped out from behind the wall that
years of training and experience had experience had erected. He allowed himself to
be exposed to the broken, sobbing figure in front of him, and to be moved, not as a
doctor is moved by a patient, to a safe and serviceable sympathy, but as a human
being who allows himself full empathy with the suffering of another. (p 126)

 How might your comparison between the two doctors change when recalling
that Dr. Hirschfeldt has a succession of mistresses, is providing abortions and
treatment for venereal disease to the sexual conquests of wealthy men, and
accepted silver clasps removed from a holy book as payment for services?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

PIKUACH NEFESH: The Mitzvah of Saving a Life


Handout 2 for "To Save a Life, To Raise a Child" Session

You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor, I am Adonai.

Leviticus 19:16

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.


And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a

If someone has a throat pain, that person may be given medicine on Shabbat,
because there is a chance of danger to human life, and whenever there is a chance
that there is danger to human life, the laws of Shabbat are suspended. If debris falls
on someone, and it is uncertain whether that person is [caught] there [under the
debris] or not, or whether the person is alive or dead, or whether the person is a
foreigner or an Israelite, one should open the heap of debris [even on Shabbat] for
that person's sake. If the person is alive, remove the debris, but if the person is dead,
leave the body there until after Shabbat is over.

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma 83a

One may warm water for a sick person on Shabbat, both for the purpose of giving
drink and refreshing the sick person . . . Nor do we say, "Let us wait, because
perhaps he will get well," but we warm the water for him immediately, because the
danger to human life renders inoperative the laws of the Sabbath . . . Nor do we
leave these things to be done by gentiles or minors [who are not responsible for
keeping Shabbat], but [they should be done] by Jewish adults.

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma 85b

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

SURVIVAL SHALEM
Discussion Guide for Group Study of Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book
by Miriam Philips
Rabbinical Student, Hebrew Union College

Participants will
• Explore the differences between physical and spiritual survival, by associating
words and images with "survival," and reading and analyzing texts from People
of the Book.
• Examine what "survival" in People of the Book might have to say about Judaism,
and about participants' lives, experiences and values.
• Apply these different definitions of survival to incidents in their own lives.

FREE ASSOCIATION on "Survival"


Ask participants (and keep track of responses on board or paper):
 "What is the first word or image you think of when I say 'survival'?" Share initial, gut
responses.

 "Of the ideas just mentioned, which concept or concepts of survival do you think
People of the Book explores or embraces?"

TWO TEXT STUDIES from People of the Book


Choose one or both of the following, depending on available time and your assessment
of your group's abilities and wishes.

Amitai and Ruti (see separate source sheet)


To be done in chevruta or small groups.
 Divide the class into chevruta (studying in twos or threes).
 Briefly explain the concept of chevruta study: read the text aloud and discuss the
questions provided on the sheet.
 Give group 8 minutes to complete both excerpts on Amitai and Ruti source sheet.
 Have each chevruta share one or two insights they made about the texts, the theme
of survival, and discuss as a group.
 Time permitting or as a discussion prompts:
♦ What challenges to human survival arise in the book?
♦ How do or don't the characters overcome the challenges to survival?
♦ Do you agree that care and compassion are a necessary part of survival?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

Zahra (see separate source sheet)


To be done as an entire group.
 Read the "Zahra" text aloud in the entire group, sharing the reading between one or
two volunteers.
 Ask and discuss the following:
♦ What are some ways that Zahra could be seen as the ideal creator of the
Sarajevo Haggadah?
♦ What can her life tell us about the ideals or values the Sarajevo Haggadah
represents?
♦ What do you think survival means for Zahra?

CONCLUDING DISCUSSION
Depending on available time, you may skip one or more of the following:
 How is the meaning of "survival" different in People of the Book than the way you
described at the beginning of class, if at all?
♦ Do you think it is possible for a person to survive and lose his or her identity? For
an object? What about for a group?

 When someone is ill, Jews pray that the person will have a complete healing, a
refuah shleimah—a healing of body, and a healing of spirit. Geraldine Brooks seems
to suggest in People of the Book that real survival is a survival shalem, a survival of
body and spirit.
♦ Can you think of times in your life when you survived in body but not spirit?
♦ What (or who) helped you achieve a complete survival?

 The word for peace in Hebrew, shalom, comes from the word for wholeness or
completeness, shalem.
♦ What does a complete survival, a survival shalem, have to do with peace,
shalom?
♦ What do these concepts suggest about what it means to be a Jew and to "do
Jewish"?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

AMITAI AND RUTI: Texts on Survival


Handout 1 for "Survival Shalem" Session

"Well, last night the Jewish community in Sarajevo had their seder, and in the
middle of it—very dramatic, they brought out the haggadah. The head of the
community made a speech saying that the survival of the book was a symbol of the
survival of Sarajevo's multiethnic ideal. And do you know who saved it? His name is
Ozren Karaman, head of the museum library. Went in under intense shelling."
Amitai's voice suddenly seemed a bit husky. "Can you imagine, Channa? A Muslim,
risking his neck to save a Jewish book."
—People of the Book, p. 9

 In the above excerpt, what survives and how?

 Of the ideas about survival we shared earlier, which ones do you think this
excerpt captures or illuminates?

"Sorry, my little one," she said gently, and then thrust him under the dark
surface.
The water closed around him, touching every inch of his flesh. She had a firm
grip around his upper arm. She let go. The water had to take him.
She looked down at the small, struggling form, her face determined, even as she
sobbed. The swell rose and slapped against her. The tug of the receding wave was
about to pull the infant away. Ruti reached out and grasped him firmly in her two
hands. As she lifted him from the sea, water sluiced off his bare, shining skin in a
shower of brightness. She held him up to the stars. The roar in her head was louder
now than the surf. She cried out, into the wind, speaking the words for the infant in
her hands. "Shema Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad."
Then she drew the cloth from her head and wrapped the baby. All over Aragon
that night, Jews were being forced to the baptismal font, driven to conversion by
fear of exile. Ruti, exultant, defiant, had made a Gentile into a Jew.
—People of the Book, pp. 257-258

 In the above excerpt, what survives and how?

 Of the ideas about survival we shared earlier, which ones do you think this
excerpt captures or illuminates?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

ZAHRA: Texts on Survival


Handout 2 for "Survival Shalem" Session

The character Zahra bint Ibrahim 1 al-Tarek is the narrator of the following excerpts. She
is also the artist who, in the novel, creates the illustrations in the Sarajevo Haggadah.

The doctor has restored much to me, in addition to my name. The work I do for him
is important work, and I feel connected by it to my father. Every plant, every
diagram I make, I offer to the glory of Allah in my father's memory. The doctor,
although a very devout Jew, respects my faith and allows for the prayers and the
fasts. When he saw me making prostrations on the bare floor of his library, he sent
me a prayer rug even finer than the one I left behind at the palace…
— People of the Book, p. 313

If only there could be another such staff, to free me from my bondage. Freedom,
indeed, is the main part of what I lack now in this place where I have honorable
work, and comfort enough. Yet it is not my own country. Freedom and a country.
The two things the Jews craved, and which their God delivered to them through the
staff of Musa. 2
— People of the Book, p. 316

1
"bint Ibrahim" is Arabic for "bat Avraham" or "daughter of Abraham."
2
"Musa" is Arabic for "Moses," who is a revered prophet in Islam.

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

FEATHERS AND A ROSE: THE CLASP OF THE HAGGADAH


Discussion Guide for Group Study of Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book
by Jonathan Freund
Director of Educational and Interreligious Programs, Board of Rabbis of Southern California
from an idea by Mayrav Saar and Miriam Philips

Vienna is the laboratory of the apocalypse. -Karl Kraus (1874-1936)

INTRODUCTION
The chapter "Feathers and a Rose; Vienna, 1894" is the focus of this session. The recap
below is provided as background or a reminder to those who finished the book some
time ago; the instructor may read it aloud or have participants read it aloud prior to
breaking into small groups.
Geraldine Brooks depicts the Vienna of 1894 as being in "almost imperceptible
decline—a decline of mood rather than matter." It is a debauched city, a false sheen of
glamour on its philanderers, mistresses and thieves. It is also the city of Sigmund Freud,
Theodore Herzl, and a five-year-old Adolf Hitler.

In this setting, the silver-clasped Haggadah is assigned for repair to Florien Mittl,
a bookbinder who is losing his sight and his senses to syphilis. Mittl is a classic
Judenfresser 1 (a common term for "Jew-hater" that "anti-Semite" was coined to
replace), who is offended that he is now relegated to working only on Jewish books. He
removes the book's sliver clasp–"a flower enfolded by a wing"2–and offers them as
payment to Franz Hirschfeldt, his wealthy Jewish doctor, for experimental syphilis
treatments using arsenic.

Mittl convinces Hirschfeldt–who is working on Yom Kippur–that the clasp came


from the Christian Bible of the Mittl family. The doctor eventually takes pity on the
broken, sobbing Mittl and accepts the silver clasp as payment, and then makes plans to
have it turned into jewelry: one piece for his unfaithful wife, and another for his
mistress.

1
The literal meaning is "Jew-eater." In general usage, it implied "someone whose hostility to Jews makes
him lose his appetite." It was often used without negative connotations.
2
A flower and a wing are recurring motifs in the Sarajevo Haggadah's illustrations.

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

HIRSCHFELDT AND MITTL IN VIENNA

 SEE SEPARATE SOURCE SHEET

It is recommended that one or both sections be studied and discussed in chevruta (pairs)
or in small groups. A handout follows this plan. They also can be studied by the entire
group if need be.

Allow 10-15 minutes for discussion of 1 and 2, depending upon your group. If necessary,
provide directions on chevruta discussion

Bring the class together and have each chevruta or group share the most interesting
aspects of their discussion with the full class.

MAKING SENSE OF IT (IF WE CAN) - CONCLUDING DISCUSSION

Point out: Other episodes in People of the Book, and in the history of the Sarajevo
Haggadah, focus on its being created or saved. In this chapter, the Haggadah is
desecrated, in payment for treatment of venereal disease.

 What is the significance of having set the scene of its desecration in Vienna of 1894?
(You may wish to refer to the Karl Kraus quote at the head of the chapter.)

 What do you make of the chapter being set during Yom Kippur? Which characters
might have to atone for what offenses?

 What comments might the author be making about religion, assimilation and
cosmopolitan life in this chapter? Or about infidelity, the treatment of books or anti-
Semitism?

 How can we reconcile or contrast the "Feathers and a Rose" chapter with the history
and legacy of the Sarajevo Haggadah, and with the meaning of the Passover
haggadah itself?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

HIRSCHFELDT AND MITTL IN VIENNA


Handout for "Flower and a Rose: The Clasp of the Haggadah" Session

Discussion 1
Florien Mittl clutched at the slender trunk of a lime tree to steady himself as fur-
hatted Hassids poured out of their synagogue and filled the street with their
uncouth Yiddish babble…. In the upper-Austrian burg where he had been raised, it
was the Jews who would make way for a Christian; they would wait for him to pass.
Vienna was too liberal; there was no doubt of it. These Jews had been allowed to
forget their place. (121)

Hirschfeldt did not fast on the Day of Atonement. Racial solidarity was one thing; he
had made a dutiful appearance at the synagogue, nodded to those to whom he
needed to nod, and slipped out at the first seemly moment. But unhealthy dietary
practices were something else. He thought such customs superstitions from a
bygone, primitive age. (124)

 Considering the time, place and status of the characters, what is your reaction to
these attitudes?
 Do you know anyone today, Jew or non-Jew who feels or act ssimilarly to either
Hirschfeldt or Mittl?

Discussion 2
What did he [Hirschfeldt] owe to the Mittl family Bible, after all? At least it existed.
Not like the mountains of Talmuds and other Jewish books consigned to flames over
centuries by order of Herr Mittl's church. What did it matter if it had no clasps?
(127)

 What connection, if any, can you draw between the attitude of Hirschfeldt in this
excerpt and the previous one?
 What accountability, if any, does he share for the desecration of the Haggadah?
Does it make a difference that he believes the clasps come from a Christian Bible?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

ART & THE HAGGADAH


Discussion Guide for One People One Book 5771

The striking illustrations in the Sarajevo Haggadah are the earliest known works of figurative art
in a Jewish book. Geraldine Brooks "reads" these illustrations in imaginative ways to produce a
provocative melding of fiction and history in her novel People of the Book. Now it's your turn to
try the same kind of "reading".

1: On the next page, compare the similarities and differences between the two images of very
different Passover seders.

 What "story" might each image be telling?

♦ For example, what do you make of the black woman in aristocratic clothing at the table in
the first image?

2: At the Passover seder, the following words precede the Magid section, the telling of the story.
Read them aloud and then continue with the discussion questions below.

Let all who are hungry come and eat.


Let all who are in need come and celebrate Passover.

 How does each of these images fulfill or reflect, if at all, the above excerpt from the Haggadah
text?

♦ Is the text to be taken literally or metaphorically?

♦ What is your interpretation of the words and phrases "hungry," "in need," and "come and
celebrate." How might the images echo your interpretations?

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

From The Sarajevo Haggadah, c.1350

Ruth Weisberg, from The Open Door: A Passover Haggadah, 2002

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS


Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, Ph.D. is professor of literature, chair of the Literature,
Communication, and Media Department at American Jewish University, a member of the
executive committee of the Board of Rabbis, and a 2010 Greenfaith Fellow. Her Torah
commentaries, personal and literary essays, study guides and reviews have been widely
published in books, magazines, and journals. Rabbi Glazer has been a popular lecturer and
Visiting Scholar at synagogues throughout the country, and at UCLA, USC, and the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem as well as in Denmark and Finland. Her most recent and celebrated book
is Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to their Beauty, Power and Meaning: A New Translation
and Commentary in Memory of David L. Lieber (Aviv Press, 2009). Previous books include Dancing
on the Edge of the World: Jewish Stories of Faith, Inspiration, and Love and Dreaming the Actual:
Contemporary Fiction and Poetry by Israel Women Writers; she also edited The Bedside Torah.

A dedicated ethnic/healthy/Jewish foodie, she co-authored The Essential Book of Jewish Festival
Cooking: 200 Seasonal Recipes and their Traditions (Harper-Collins) and has written for Bon
Appetit and the L.A. Times. In addition to her role at the Board of Rabbis and frequent teaching in
the community, Rabbi Glazer serves on the board of the Jewish Women's Theatre and the
Editorial Board of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat teaches Midrash (biblical interpretation) at the American
Jewish University's Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. She currently serves on the Executive
Committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and on the Committee of One People
One Book community learning program. Formerly, she served for five years as the rabbi of
Temple Beth Shalom in Long Beach, CA and subsequently for two years at Temple Ner Ma'arav in
Encino, CA. She is the wife of Tal (a franchise lawyer) and mother of two children, Jeremy (age 6)
and Hannah (age 3). Her current writing explores the spirituality of parenthood.

Rabbi Mark S. Diamond is the Executive Vice President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern
California, a multi-denominational organization of more than 300 rabbis. He also serves on the
senior management team of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Rabbi Diamond
received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and is a
Magna cum Laude graduate of Carleton College. Prior to joining the Board, he served as rabbi of
congregations in metropolitan San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.

Rabbi Diamond is a fellow of the 2007-2010 Rabbinic Leadership Initiative of the Shalom Hartman
Institute in Jerusalem. He is a member of the Ethics Resource Committee of Children's Hospital of
Los Angeles, the California State Advisory Committee on Institutional Religion, the executive
committee of the United Jewish Communities Rabbinic Cabinet, and is a past chairman of the Los
Angeles Council of Religious Leaders. He is the author of numerous articles on Jewish life and
thought, and founded the "Ask a Rabbi" forum for America Online. His sermons have been
published in Torah Aura's "Learn Torah With" series. His articles and book reviews have appeared
in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, the Northern California Jewish Bulletin and the
Washington Jewish Week.

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A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

Jonathan Freund worked for over 20 years in various capacities in theater, film and television
at Manhattan Theater Club, Williamstown Theater Festival, Paramount Pictures, HBO, Warner
Bros. and Punch Productions, among many others. In 2006, he received a Masters in Jewish
Education from the University of Judaism. Prior to joining the Board of Rabbis of Southern
California, he ran programs with the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation,
Storahtelling, and Camp Alonim. He has taught Torah and Judaica, to adults and youth, at
Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Adat Ari El, University Synagogue, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, Milken
Community High School and for the Jewish Federation. As a writer, he contributed to the 2007
edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica , and to Murder Most Merciful: Essays on the Ethical
Conundrum of 'The Judgement of Herbert Bierhoff' (Studies in the Shoah) , edited by Michael
Berenbaum.

With the Board of Rabbis, Jonathan is the inaugural Director of Educational & Interreligious
Programs, overseeing the Board's educational and interreligious activities, including interfaith
missions and other programs advocating a positive, nuanced vision of Israel; the One People, One
Book transdenominational literary program; and lifelong education for judicatory leaders, clergy
and community leaders.

Mayrav Saar is the program director for the Board of Rabbis. Before joining the board, Saar
enjoyed a distinguished career as a journalist. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times,
the New York Times, the Jerusalem Post, and many other publications. Saar earned her
journalism degree at Northwestern University in Chicago and worked around the world as a
reporter before returning to her native Los Angeles.

Miriam Philips is a fourth-year rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles. Last
year she received her Master of Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College as a Mandel
Fellow. As part of the Fellowship Miriam studied leadership and peoplehood through the lens of
visionary communities that use education as growth.

Miriam is a native West Coaster, hailing from rural Washington state and Long Beach, CA. Miriam
graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University in 2003, majoring in history. At Brandeis,
she was active in pluralism, multicultural, and dialogue work, including co-developing and leading
a multicultural seder each year. Miriam was also involved in Christian-Jewish-Muslim dialogue, to
the point that she was elected an honorary member of the Muslim Student Association. After
college, Miriam volunteered in Israel on Otzma, teaching English to underprivileged youth and
working at the Israel Religious Action Center.

Developed as part of One People, One Book, a transdenominational community learning program. Copyright
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©2010 Board of Rabbis of Southern California/Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. All rights reserved.
A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

GERALDINE BROOKS
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who
grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended
Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She
worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three
years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental
issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News


Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master's program at
Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The
Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East,
Africa, and the Balkans.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel
Photo by Randi Baird March. Her first novel, Year of Wonders, is an international
bestseller, and People of the Book is a New York Times bestseller translated into 20 languages.
She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. In
2011, she will edit Best American Short Stories, and co-judge the PEN/Hemingway Award.

Brooks married author Tony Horwitz in Tourette-sur-Loup, France, in 1984. They have two sons--
Nathaniel and Bizuayehu--and two dogs. They divide their time between homes in Martha's
Vineyard, Massachusetts, and Sydney, Australia.

Fiction
People of the Book, Viking Penguin 2008
March, Viking 2005
Year of Wonders, Viking 2001

Nonfiction
Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey From Down Under to All Over, Anchor 1999
Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, Anchor 1995

www.geraldinebrooks.com

Developed as part of One People, One Book, a transdenominational community learning program. Copyright
P a g e | 47
©2010 Board of Rabbis of Southern California/Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. All rights reserved.
A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

Additional Resources
Please visit the websites and other links for our contributors included with their pieces above.

An essay by Geraldine Brooks on the World War II history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, “The Book of Exodus:
A double rescue in wartime Sarajevo,” appeared in The New Yorker magazine on December 3, 2007. It is
available in PDF form through the author's web site, http://bit.ly/BrooksNewYorker

Edward Serotta's Nightline episode, "Searching for Hope: Sarajevo Haggadah," is available on DVD from
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/SarajevoHaggadah-Nightline. (Your purchase through this link supports
future Board of Rabbis' programs.) It is also available at ABCNewsStore.com

"The History and Presence of the Jewish Community in Sarajevo," an article and website focusing on the
Sephardic identity of the Jewish community: http://networkeurope.radio.cz/feature/the-history-and-
presence-of-jewish-comunity-in-sarajevo

Visiting Bosnian Jews: Sarajevo Jewish Community, A Documentary Project Commissioned by the
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, is at http://www.beneden.com/sarajevo/

A page-by-page replica of the entire Sarajevo Haggadah is at http://www.sarajevo.net/haggadah

A facsimile edition of the Sarajevo Haggadah is available at http://haggadah.ba

Acknowledgments
The editor wishes to express his gratitude to Rabbi Miriyam Glazer and Miriam Philips for their
original essays; to Joshua Ellison, Jakob Finci and Edward Serotta for allowing us to reprint their
previous work; to Edward Serotta for his guidance; and especially to Mayrav Saar and Miriam
Philips for their invaluable assistance in preparing this volume; to Rabbi Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat
and Rabbi Miriyam Glazer for their leadership; and to Rabbi Mark Diamond for his guidance and
support.

Every effort has been made to ascertain and acknowledge the owners of copyrights for photographs and other
material included in this volume, and as necessary to obtain permission to reprint text and images. For use of the
material indicated, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
express their gratitude to those listed below. The editors will be pleased to correct any inadvertent errors or
omissions that are subsequently pointed out.

Penguin Books: Excerpts from People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks © 2008.

Joshua Ellison: "Another Jerusalem" from Habitus: A Diaspora Journal, Vol. 2: Sarajevo © 2007.

Jakob Finci: "About the Sarajevo Haggadah" from http://haggadah.ba, retrieved December 15, 2010.

Edward Serotta: "Perspective on Sarajevo: History Turned on its Head" from The Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1995.

Developed as part of One People, One Book, a transdenominational community learning program. Copyright
P a g e | 49
©2010 Board of Rabbis of Southern California/Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. All rights reserved.
A Sourcebook for People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and The Sarajevo Haggadah

THE BOARD OF RABBIS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, as part of The Jewish Federation


of Greater Los Angeles, brings together more than 320 rabbis representing the Conservative,
Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform and transdenominational streams of Jewish life. The
Board promotes and enriches Jewish learning and living through programming and leadership
in the areas of Community Learning, Professional Growth, Interreligious Action, Social Justice,
Healing & Spirituality, Media Relations and Israel Advocacy.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger Rabbi Mark S. Diamond


President Executive Vice President

Rabbi Judith HaLevy Rabbi Sarah Hronsky


Rabbi Daniel Bouskila Treasurer
Rabbi Jonathan Bernhard Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater
Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein Corresponding Secretary
Vice Presidents Rabbi Miriyam Glazer
Recording Secretary

Rabbis Ilana Berenbaum Grinblat, Jonathan Hanish, Joshua Hoffman, Yosef Kanefsky, Susan Leider, Daniel
Moskovitz, Steven Carr Reuben, Rebecca Yaël Schorr, Ronald Stern, Stewart L. Vogel, Jason Weiner
Executive Committee

Rabbi Mark S. Diamond Executive Vice President


Jonathan Freund Director, Educational & Interreligious Programs
Mayrav Saar Program Director
Gloria Juarez Administrative Assistant
Miriam Philips Rabbinic Intern

ONE PEOPLE, ONE BOOK is a citywide festival of Jewish learning, in which readers from
area congregations of different movements, as well as those unaffiliated with a synagogue,
join together for a year-long study of a significant Jewish book. The Board of Rabbis produces
the program's community-wide events, curricula, and study guides for small group sessions.

The Board of Rabbis of Southern California


6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90048
BoardofRabbis@JewishLA.org 323-761-8600 www.BoardofRabbis.org

Developed as part of One People, One Book, a transdenominational community learning program. Copyright
P a g e | 50
©2010 Board of Rabbis of Southern California/Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. All rights reserved.