The New Venice Haggadah

To mark the Ghetto quincentennial, Beit Venezia, the international center for Jewish Studies in Venice, invited eight Jewish artists from all over the world to design a new Venice Haggadah, after a full immersion in the city and a residency at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica.

Three of these artists are members of the Jewish Art Salon:

Andi Arnovitz, Kyra Matustik and Hillel Smith.

The twenty-four etchings, first exhibited at the Jewish Museum of Venice, offer a unique visual commentary on the Hebrew text, accompanied by a new English translation intended to invite discussion and interpretation. The New Venice Haggadah is informed by the spirit of the “original” Venice haggadah while being consummately fresh, contemporary and innovative.

This Haggadah, celebrates the creative legacy of the Ghetto of Venice. Founded in 1516 to confine the Jews, the Ghetto became the home of a vibrant community of people from Italy, Germany, Spain and the Levant. It made Venice the capital of Jewish publishing, with the first complete Talmud, Torah commentaries, mysticism and, in 1609, a famous Haggadah printed in several languages reflecting the diversity of the Ghetto’s Jewish communities.

The New Venice Haggadah was recently published and is available here.

The idea to publish a new Venice Haggadah was born in 2015. In 2016, Venice commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Jewish Ghetto. Not the first ghetto in history, but the first time that word would be used. The word “ghetto” originated in Venice in 1516, stemming from the fact that the area where Jews would be allowed to live, had been in the past a metal foundry, “getto”, in Venetian.

Beit Venezia is an organization that promotes Jewish thought and culture and serves as a bridge between people of all cultures and religions. The art residence would last four weeks to be spent in Venice, during which time each artist would then study the history of the Haggadot, think of three illustrations for the new Haggadah, prepare the etchings on copper plates and then print them.