Earlier this week, artist Jan Aronson wrote about how she became an illustrator and her illustrations for “The Bronfman Haggadah.” Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
Many people have asked why I included a biblical map in “The Bronfman Haggadah.” Well, for starters, I love maps and I guess I assume that other people love them as well.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time poring over maps. Growing up in New Orleans, maps helped me figure out where I was in relation to the world. I wanted to know, for instance, where I was in relation to Europe. Where was Paris?
I also loved the colors of maps, as maps are very beautiful. Indeed, I think they are beautiful for a reason: so that we may enjoy and admire them as we investigate the world and place ourselves within a certain universe.
For that reason, I thought it would be useful and important to be able to turn to a page in the Haggadah and see the part of the world that we’re talking about. I also realized that I’d never seen a map in a Haggadah—and I have looked at countless illustrated Haggadot. And so, I decided that a map would indeed be a very interesting, unique, and informative detail.
This led to many days of research about biblical geography, and that’s when things got complicated. There’s an open-endedness about our story and it is nearly impossible to pinpoint specifics. It turns out that there are five possible sites for Mount Sinai, and there are at least three possible routes taken by the Jews—there were established trade routes, important cities flourishing, and various tribes settled among the land.
I know that I am not alone in loving maps, so I hope that including one in “The Bronfman Haggadah” will not only entertain and inform readers, but also open their eyes to a new aspect of the Passover story.
Visit Jan Aronson’s official website here.
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