Reading the Telling

The Passover Haggadah across Time and Place

Reading the Telling (March 7 – June 30, 2017) is an exhibition curated by Adam T. Strater in collaboration with the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.

The Haggadah (literally, “the telling”) is the text that recounts the Israelites’ deliverance from Egyptian bondage and structures the seder service on Passover eve, but the Passover seder’s domestic nature has in turn shaped the Haggadah to tell us an additional story, the story of those who produced and used the individual Haggadot.

Dating from the time of the Mishna (second and third century CE), the Haggadah presents its narrative through a series of scriptural and Talmudic quotations, commentaries, rituals, blessings, and songs assembled in various combinations over the millennia. The Haggadah’s patchwork and domestic qualities provide a window into the development of Jewish religious cultures across time and place. This exhibit highlights the distinctive character of the Haggadah using collections donated by Rabbi David Geffen and Richard K. Goldstein to the Pitts Theology Library. There are also Haggadot, images, and artifacts provided by the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum and the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

Adam T. Strater, Exhibit Curator and PhD Student in the Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University, provides an introduction to the exhibit and an overview of its demonstration of Pitts’ vast Haggadot holdings.

The videos below bring subject-matter experts from Emory and elsewhere to describe the significance of some of the items and concepts in the exhibit. These videos can also be viewed in the gallery. We invite visitors to use smartphones or tablets to snap the QR codes in the cases or on the printed guides to access and download the exhibit catalog or to explore topics in greater detail via the in-depth resources provided. An interactive console is located at the rear of the gallery.

Dr. David Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies, Emory University, introduces the ways that the Passover Seder is celebrated.

Dr. David Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies, Emory University, introduces the motifs of the Passover Seder.

Dr. Eric Goldstein, Judith London Evans Director of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, Emory University, discusses the commercialization of Haggadot in America.

Dr. Michael Berger, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Director, Department of Religion, Emory University, introduces the “four sons” of Passover.

Dr. Paul Root Wolpe, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics and Director, Center for Ethics, Emory University, discusses the imager of the Passover Seder.

Rabbi David Geffen, PhD, Editor of the American Heritage Haggadah, recalls a seder with his family in Atlanta in 1946.

Reading the Telling: The Passover Haggadah across Time and Place

Exhibition Catalog: Read Online | Download PDF