update deskJewish & Israeli Holidays

Passover 2023

National Library of Israel expands Sephardic-heritage, Spanish-language offerings

In time for Passover, the online resources include a large selection of Haggadot in the Sephardic tradition, available for download.

Haggadah from Fez, Morocco, 20th century. Credit: National Library of Israel.
Haggadah from Fez, Morocco, 20th century. Credit: National Library of Israel.

The National Library of Israel (NLI) announced the online availability of its Sephardic Heritage and Spanish-language resources. In time for Passover, these resources include a large selection of Haggadot in the Sephardic tradition, available for download.

On March 31, 1492, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella signed the Edict of Expulsion ordering the Jews to leave Spain, where the Jewish community had thrived for some 800 years.

After the Expulsion, Jews of Spanish origin established communities wherever safe haven was to be found—in Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and the Land of Israel. They continued to speak Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) and maintained their deeply rooted traditions.

To mark this watershed in history, NLI has launched a webpage dedicated to the Jewish Expulsion from Spain. The site presents items from its collection of pre-and post-expulsion Sephardic manuscripts, early printed books, Ladino materials, poetry and prayer, as well as other oral documentation.

Haggadah in Ladino and Hebrew from Venice, Italy, 17th century. Credit: National Library of Israel.

Passover Haggadot in this collection include:

  • 14th-century Haggadah from Catalonia, Spain
  • 15th-century Haggadah from Guadalajara, Spain
  • 17th-century Haggadah in Ladino and Hebrew, from Venice, Italy
  • 20th-century Haggadah from Fez, Morocco.

New archives of Sephardic Heritage have been added to NLI’s collection of personal archives, including the writings and personal estates of rabbis and community leaders, archives of institutions and Mizrahi-Jewish communities whose members are descendants of the expelled Jews, archives of scholars of Sephardic Jewry and more.

Among the newest archives, cataloged and scanned thanks to the generous support of the Samis Foundation of Seattle, are those of historian Moshe David Gaon (father of singer Yehoram Gaon); journalist Robert Attal; Yechiel Habshush, who helped to bring the Yemenite community to Israel; and parts of the personal archive of Abraham Shalom Yahuda, who established NLI’s collection of Arabic and Islamic works.

Haggadah from Catalonia, Spain, 14th century. Credit: National Library of Israel.
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