Out of the Narrows: The Artists’ Haggadah by the Jewish Artist Collective Chicago

New Haggadah using art as commentary, spurred by the COVID-19 

Jewish Artist Collective Chicago (JACC) produces Haggadah featuring art by 11 artists.

Out of the Narrows: The Artists’ Haggadah

Available on B & N Press and Blurb

The idea for a Haggadah featuring engaging, original artwork was the emergence of the plague of our time, COVID-19, which necessitated celebrating a socially distanced Passover. As Carol Neiger, Berit Engen, and Susan Dickman set out to envision the manuscript that eventually became Out of the Narrows: The Artists’ Haggadah, they knew only that they shared a common goal, the desire to create a text rich in meaning and beauty, one that would engage visually and thematically and evoke in-depth discussions at next year’s Seder. 

The Haggadah is 144 pages, full color, and contains the full Haggadah featuring art as commentary by 11 artists who are members of Jewish Artists Collective Chicago (JAC-C). Jewish Artists Collective Chicago is a community of multidisciplinary artists connected through common heritage and committed to sharing ideas, enriching practices, and creating dialogue with community.

The Haggadah was conceptualized and created by three JAC-C member artists: Susan Dickman (editor, writer) Berit Engen (content curator, editor), and Carol Neiger (project director, designer). They are also Jewish Art Salon members, along with participating artists Alan Hobscheid, Dorit Jordan Dotan, Ellen Holtzblatt and Judith Joseph.

Out of the Narrows is a complete Passover Haggadah with the Passover Seder in Hebrew, transliteration, and English, including all steps of the ceremony, including rituals, prayers, liturgy, and commentary.

In the winter of 2019, rumors about a contemporary plague, a virus emerging from China was moving swiftly westward. Around Purim, it arrived on our shores full force, steamrolling communities, families, jobs, and businesses. Schools closed, shelter-in-place orders were issued, and masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves became precious commodities. 

As part of the creation process, Dickman, Engen, and Neiger discussed: What does it mean to celebrate Passover in a pandemic? As artists, our job is to witness, comment, and create. How does art help make sense of the Passover story? How do its elements reflect on the plagues of disease, death, and injustice that still exist? How do we praise God when the world is broken and millions continue to suffer? But what is more diametrically opposed to the celebration of freedom and redemption–the becoming of who we are–than living in lockdown, figurative lamb’s blood smearing the doors of the quarantined?

The Hebrew word for Egypt is translated as “narrow place.” Slavery in Egypt confined us to a narrow place, with constrictions on our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives. The Exodus is the story of liberation from the things that hold us back. Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlov (1772-1822) said, “The Exodus from Egypt occurs  in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day.”

Out of the Narrows: The Artists’ Haggadah can be purchased at two price points:

Heavier paper at Blurb for $60.00

Blurb offers volume discounts! 30% off (10-19 copies) 40% off (20+) copies.

Economy version (lighter paper) at Barnes & Noble for $24.95