Thursday, February 6, 2014 | return to: arts


CJM displays Szyk haggadah originals

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The Contemporary Jewish Museum will present “Arthur Szyk and the Art of the Haggadah,” a new exhibition that features original paintings from the famed Szyk haggadah, first published in 1940 after the Polish Jewish artist had fled Nazi tyranny. The exhibition opens Thursday, Feb. 13 and runs through June 29.

An illustration from the Szyk haggadah
An illustration from the Szyk haggadah
All 48 original paintings from Szyk’s haggadah will be on view. The exhibition features Szyk’s miniatures on paper, as well as examples of historical and contemporary haggadahs.

Born in 1894 to a Jewish family in Lodz, Szyk trained in Paris and Poland, later immigrating to the United States. He died in 1951.

His richly detailed gouache and watercolor paintings for the haggadah drew parallels between Pharaoh’s Egypt and Hitler’s Germany. One figure features a Hitler moustache.

In the last decade, there has been renewed interested in the artist. Locally, the Arthur Szyk Society is headed by Irvin Ungar of Burlingame. Ungar, an antiquarian bookseller specializing in Judaica and former pulpit rabbi, will lead tours of the exhibit in March, April and May, and will give a talk at the museum on March 30.

The CJM is located at 735 Mission St., S.F. For more information, visit


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