Man in white shirt lifting a baby

© The Estate of Joseph Hirsch

The Rose Family Seder Books are unique collections of Passover-themed artwork. For over 60 years, the Rose family has commissioned artwork from some of the most prominent American artists to create these books as part of a family tradition around Passover—the annual Jewish holiday celebrating the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in ancient Egypt. Thanks to the Rose family’s continuing generosity, the books are now part of The New York Public Library’s Dorot Jewish Division.

Artists and approaches represented in this decades-long collaboration range from New York social realist Jack Levine to New York Review of Books caricaturist David Levine and include some of the most prominent American artists of the 20th century. Many of the contributors were Jewish, often from New York. Some, including Saul Raskin, Leonard Baskin, and Larry Rivers, were already famous for treating Jewish themes; others, such as Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser, were not. Other notable contributors include the Spanish-American Expressionist Federico Castellón and the Israeli social realist Naftali Bezem. Materials and techniques employed in these volumes range from a stained-glass window design executed in Mylar to several pages of Frank Stella’s sculptural paper puzzle constructions.

This year's display features illustrations by Joseph Hirsch (1910–1981) and Will Barnet (1911–2012).

Joseph Hirsch, a celebrated Jewish American realist painter and muralist, was born in Philadelphia to a family of German immigrants. He studied painting in the U.S. and in France in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, he served as the artist correspondent for the U.S. Army. This experience was highly influential on his development of a humanistic and compassionate style of art.

Will Barnet is a celebrated American artist known for his abstract geometrical portrayal of human figures illuminated by joy and warmth within airy spaces.

About the Dorot Jewish Division

desks in Dorot division

The Dorot Jewish Division is responsible for administering, developing, and promoting one of the world’s great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. Primary source materials are especially rich in the following areas: Jews in the United States, especially in New York in the age of immigration; Yiddish theater; Jewish diasporas around the world; Jews in early modern Europe, especially Jewish-Gentile relations; Christian Hebraism; antisemitism; and world Jewish newspapers and periodicals of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Learn more about the division and its collection.

Large Print Labels

Large Print Logo

Access the exhibition's large print labels here:

The Rose Family Seder Book Display Labels

A physical copy can be found at the information desk in the McGraw Rotunda.