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The spring festival of Passover celebrates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, from slavery to freedom.  Every year, to prepare for this holiday, families clean their homes of foods not permitted during the holiday. These foods, called chametz, are foods containing leavening, because when the Jews fled from Egypt in a hurry, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise.


The holiday begins with a seder, a special meal during which the story of Passover is recited and prayers are said and symbolic foods are eaten. The word “seder” means “order, and small books called Haggadahs tell the order in which the seder should be conducted.  Some of the special foods are matzah, unleavened bread, and maror, a bitter herb that symbolizes the bitterness of slavery under Pharaoh. It is said that the prophet Elijah visits every seder to bring the blessing of peace.


1. Haggadahs are little books that explain how to have a Seder, the special Passover meal that celebrates how Jews escaped from slavery in Egypt many years ago.  There are more than 3000 types of Haggadahs being used today. Sometimes families make their own Haggadahs.  Would you like to try making one?  What would yours look like if you made one?

 2. The oldest Haggadahs show families cleaning chametz from their homes – like a special spring cleaning.  Does your family celebrate Passover?  How do you get ready for the holiday?

3. In EVERYBODY’S BOOK, people of many different religions and backgrounds go to great lengths to keep the Sarajevo Haggadah safe.  Why did everyone think the Sarajevo Haggadah was so special?

4. Have you ever been to a Seder where people of different religions were invited to attend?  Would you like to?  Why or why not?

5. The family who owned the Sarajevo Haggadah had to leave Spain suddenly, without warning.  They chose to take the Haggadah with them.  If for any reason you had to leave your home in a hurry, what would you take with you?

6. The title of this book is EVERYBODY’S BOOK.  But Haggadahs are books for the Jewish holiday of Passover.  And the Haggadah in this story is a particular special Haggadah.  So why is this book called EVERYBODY’S BOOK?


7. We learned from EVERYBODY’S BOOK that during the Bosnian War, the President of Serbia brought the Sarajevo Haggadah out of hiding to show to people who had gathered for a seder in the midst of great danger?  Why do you think he did that?


 8. After the Bosnian war, the United Nations helped pay to have the Sarajevo Haggadah restored.  The book was then almost 600 years old, and its binding and some of its end papers needed fixing, but its beautiful illustrations were in remarkably good shape.   Andrea Pataki, the restorer, chose not to try to remove the wine stains and a child’s writing on some of the pages.  Why did she decide this?  Would you have decided the same thing?  Why or why not?


9. See how far the Sarajevo Haggadah had to travel safely over the 600 years of its history.  First try to find Spain on a map or a globe.  Then find Italy.  Then find Sarajevo, Bosnia, where the Sarajevo Haggadah is now. 


10. Books were burned by the Inquisition in Spain, by the Nazis in Germany, by the Serb and Croat extremists in the Bosnian war.  People who burn books think they can destroy the ideas in the books.  Do you think ideas can be destroyed?


11. Many brave people helped save Jews from the Nazis during World War II.  Dervis Korkut, who hid the Sarajevo Haggadah when the Nazis came to get it, also hid Jews in his home during the war.  One young woman pretended for six months to be the Korkuts’ Muslim servant.  For their courage, Dervis and Servet Korkut were named “righteous among the nations” after the war.  How brave do you think you would be in a situation like that?  Would you encourage your family to hide people who were in terrible danger?  Why or why not?

12. When an author writes a book based on history, they try to make sure that all the facts in the book are correct. But sometimes that’s very difficult.  In the story in EVERYBODY’S BOOK, the Imam hides the Sarajevo Haggadah in a mosque in the mountains, among sacred Muslim texts.  But there are other stories about where the book was hidden.  One says it was hidden under the floorboards of a mosque. Another said it was hidden under the doorstep of a mosque.  Another said it was kept safe by a peasant.  And still another said it was buried beneath an apple tree?  How should an historian choose which version to use?


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