Museum Housing Sarajevo Haggadah To Close

By JTA

Published October 03, 2012.
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The museum where the priceless, centuries-old Sarajevo Haggadah is kept is set to close its doors due to lack of funds.

Jakob Finci, the longtime leader of the Jewish community in Sarajevo, told JTA that Sarajevo’s 125-year-old National Museum will close Oct. 4 due to “lack of money, financing and support from the State.” He called the decision “tragic,” but said he did not fear for the Sarajevo Haggadah, which, he said would be kept in a safe place.

The haggadah, handwritten in Spain in the 14th century and brought to Sarajevo after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, has been owned by the museum since 1894.

During the Bosnian war in the 1990s, the lavishly illustrated, 109-page book became a symbol of the shattered dream of multi-ethnic harmony in Bosnia. After the war ended in 1995, the U.N. Mission, along with the Bosnian Jewish Community, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the Yad Hanadiv and Wolfenson Foundations, facilitated a $150,000 project to restore the Haggadah and prepare a secure, new, climate-controlled room in which to put it on display.

This was opened with a gala ceremony in December 2002. But Finci told JTA that, in recent years, the actual Haggadah was only displayed on four days a year – all the rest of the time a facsimile was shown.

The Bosnian central government no longer provides state funding for culture, and several other major cultural institutions also have been forced to close.


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