Family at a Seder table with meal. Hebrew text above them.

46 ways to better Passover meals, ca. 1940s.

The New York Public Library's Dorot Jewish Division was established in 1897 to collect and preserve research materials that document the spiritual and secular lives of Jewish people throughout history. Today—125 years later—it holds over a quarter of a million books, manuscripts, periodicals, and other items, and is one of the world’s great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. 

In celebration of Passover on this important anniversary year, the Library is proud to present a selection of very special items from the Dorot Jewish Division and other research collections within the Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Image of Jewish man in fur had with bird body.

From Zoya Cherkassky's Aachen Passover Haggadah, 2004. © Zoya Cherkassky. Used with permission.

Passover (or Pesach) is the beloved eight day Jewish holiday for which celebrations begin on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, usually during March or April of the Gregorian calendar. The word "Passover" comes from the Biblical legend in which God “passed over" the homes of the Israelites in Egypt, protecting their children from the Tenth Plague (death of the firstborn) sent to compel the Pharaoh to let the Jews out of their slavery. A commemoration of the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt, Passover reminds us that freedom must not be taken for granted—and is frequently obtained through struggle and suffering.

At the Passover Seder celebration each year, Jewish families come together to read the Haggadah—a story of Passover—and to eat special foods which hold symbolic meaning pertaining to the holiday. This web exhibition, a reflection of a one-day in-person Open House display event at The New York Public Library, features a spectacular array of special materials from the Library's Dorot Jewish Division and other research collections. From centuries-old Haggadah books and manuscripts to 21st-century artistic interpretations, these items reflect the beauty and deep spiritual significance of Passover.

Online exhibition

Navigate through the four sections of the online exhibition with the galleries below.

Highlights from the Exhibition

Manuscript with painted tree and calligraphic text in Hebrew.
15th cent. manuscript prayer book known as Don Ferrante Maḥzor.
Moses and the parting of the Red Sea.
Jacob Steinhardt’s Haggadah (1823)
Scene of 18th century Jewish family at a Seder table.
Hagadah shel Pesaḥ (1795?)

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