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Provost June Schlueter and her husband Paul Schlueter are giving Skillman Library a copy of one of the most celebrated Haggadoth of the 20th century in memory of their friend Ludwig Muhlfelder, who died in 2004.

A Haggadah is a compilation of biblical passages, prayers, hymns, and rabbinic literature to be read during the Passover Seder, a ceremony held in Jewish homes to mark the liberation of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt during biblical times. Skillman’s new acquisition was published in Jerusalem by Massada Press.

The Haggadah will be presented 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library. Robert Weiner, Jones Professor of History and Jewish chaplain, and Robert Cohn, Berman Professor of Jewish Studies, will give brief talks. An opportunity to see the book in detail will follow. Lunch will be provided at no charge.

The Haggadah will become part of Lafayette’s rare book collection, where it will continue to be available to students and scholars.

Muhlfelder emigrated in his teens from Germany at the beginning of World War II. He later wrote about his experiences as a Jewish youth during the Nazis’ rise to power in his autobiography, Because I Survived, which the Schlueters edited for publication. He and his wife Beatrice established the Muhlfelder Holocaust Scholarship at Lafayette, which is presented to a student whose academic program includes a focus on Holocaust studies. (The first recipient of the scholarship, Sarah Bassin ’04, is serving a one-year fellowship at Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life with the Hillel-affiliated Jewish Campus Service Corps and plans to attend Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion.) He is the father of Lafayette’s general counsel and vice president of human resources, Leslie Muhlfelder ’81.

The Haggadah donated by the Schlueters is a 1967 reprinting of a 1939 Haggadah produced by the Polish artist Arthur Szyk, which has been called one of the most impressive books of the 20th century. Szyk himself fled Nazism in the early 1940s and emigrated to the United States, where he became well known for his political caricatures. He was also noted for his illuminations, small decorative paintings embellishing a written text. The Skillman Haggadah embodies Szyk’s expressive style, with its dramatic figures, elaborate ornamentation, and exquisite Hebrew calligraphy. It is sumptuously bound in silver metal covers, impressed with figurative images, and decorated with brass and turquoise.

The earliest known manuscript version of a Haggadah dates from the 10th century and the earliest printed edition from 1482. Modern day Haggadoth often reflect contemporary Jewish life and events. Many of the new editions come from Israel.

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