A good Passover seder has more debate and discussion than just the Four Questions. “Passover Through Archaeology and Rare Documents” is an educational website created by The Library and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, in conjunction with the Center for Online Judaic Studies. It provides answers, thought-provoking new questions, and activities for people of all ages.
The website, located at www.passoversite.org, includes approximately 100 images of ancient documents, traditional teachings, medieval illuminated Haggadahs, and modern artistic elaborations of the Passover and Exodus, nearly all from The Library’s world-renowned Haggadah collection.
The oldest document cited is the “Merneptah Stele,” an Egyptian stone carving dated to 1207 BCE that bears the first known, written reference outside the Bible to a group of people called “Israel.” The newest, published in Haifa in 1985, is the Pessach Haggadah in Memory of the Holocaust, a modern artistic commentary on the Holocaust and Passover, each seen through the lens of the other. Highlights include images from a Cairo Genizah Haggadah (1000 BCE), perhaps the oldest surviving Haggadah on earth, and the Prato Haggadah (circa 1300), a very rare illuminated manuscript representing the Sephardic rite.
Designed for teachers and students of all levels from elementary school to adult learners, the site matches each image to a brief description of its origin, content, scribe, press, and other essential information. The material can be accessed as a gallery of images, in historical order, or through guided questions. A number of pages on the site can be printed out and passed around the seder table to inspire discussion—and two printable pages from the Prato Haggadah include unfinished illuminations for children to color.