Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah
A Visual Midrash
Susan Dickman (Editor and Writer), Berit Engen (Content Curator and Editor),
Carol Neiger (Designer and Project Coordinator)Featuring artwork by all 11 members of the Jewish Artists’ Collective Chicago
Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah cover featuring a segment of each of 11 artists whose artwork fills this book
How to order the Haggadah
Out of the Narrows can be purchased at two price points:
ORDER immediately to get your Haggadot in time for Passover! Both Blurb and Barnes & Noble have longer delivery times because of the impact of COVID-19.
About the Book
Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah views Passover visually through the lens of issues plaguing the contemporary world. The Haggadah includes the steps of the Seder with its rituals and liturgy in Hebrew, English, and transliteration, with art as commentary. Evocatively illuminated throughout with original artwork and thoughtful reflections, Out of the Narrows is a visually and thematically engaging addition to the genre. Jonathan Fass of The Jewish Book Council describes Out of the Narrows as “a visual feast ...”born out of the desire to connect the themes of Passover with the realities of celebrating the holiday during the COVID pandemic” as well as “beautifully crafted.” (JBC, March 10, 2021) Out of the Narrows features artwork by members of the Jewish Artist Collective Chicago (JACC), a community of multidisciplinary artists connected through common heritage and committed to sharing ideas, enriching practices, and creating dialogue with community.
Out of the Narrows: The Artists’ Haggadah was created during the modern plague of our time, Covid-19, as members of an arts collective began considering how to celebrate Passover, the holiday of freedom, in isolation. The Haggadah text requires us to ask questions. But the year that the world was undone by a virus, we asked even more. What does it mean to celebrate Passover in a pandemic? As artists, our job is to witness, comment, and create. How does art help make sense of the Passover story? How do its elements reflect on the plagues of disease, death, and injustice that still exist? How do we praise God when the world is broken and millions continue to suffer? In the narrow and constricting place, the world had begun to feel like under the weight of Covid-19, the idea of a Haggadah for our time began to take shape. What emerged is a text rich in meaning and beauty, one that engages readers of all ages visually and thematically and will evoke at this year’s Seder and for years to come.
Artists: Susan Dickman, Dorit Jordan Dotan, Berit Engen, Jonathan Franklin, Alan Hobscheid, Ellen Holtzblatt, Judith Joseph, Carol Neiger, Amy Reichert, Beth Shadur, Jane Weintraub
Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah cover and three spreads from the book: the Order of the Seder, Ani Ma'amin and Eli, Eli, and Song of Songs (2:10-16)
Download Information Sheet about Out of the Narrows
Articles and Reviews
Out of the Narrows: The Artists’ Haggadah — A Visual Midrash
Jewish Artists Collective Chicago
The Jewish Artists Collective of Chicago, founded in 2016, is a community of multidisciplinary artists “joined by a common mission of creating contemporary, engaging, and thoughtful work that reflects Jewish themes and values.” Out of the Narrows was born out of the desire to connect the themes of Passover with the realities of celebrating the holiday during the COVID pandemic. The Haggadah includes full-color images and thoughtful personal reflections on the artists’ pieces. The pieces are paired with the themes of the rituals and readings of an adapted and abbreviated — but mainly original — text. The Haggadah’s layout is beautifully crafted, as one might expect from a book designed by artists. Out of the Narrows is a visual feast, and is appropriate for adult audiences comfortable with drawing their own discussion from the themes found in the Seder and the accompanying art.
This is part of the Passover 5781/2021 Haggadah Roundup.
Terrific Haggadah Created By Contemporary Artists
What a terrific Haggadah created by contemporary artists. The art is beautiful, and an inspired interpretation of the Haggadah text. What I love best about this Haggadah is its overall conceptualization of the artists' contributions as visual midrash. The artists, using a variety of media, weave the collective story of the Exodus with their own stories in ways that are both deeply universal and deeply personal. I love the artists' statements that go with each of the illustrations, which are moving, perceptive, and make it clear and powerful how their works are inspired by and interpret the parts of Passover story. I would imagine that the process of making the art and putting it together for the Haggadah must have been a powerful experience. I love also that this is a very contemporary and timely (the shadow of Covid-19 is palpable in the texts and sub-text of this Haggadah) contribution to the long tradition of Jewish illuminated Haggadot. Love this!
Rabbi and Professor of Religion at Wheaton College Massachusetts
Why is this Haggadah different from all others? There is a well-known Jewish concept of Hiddur Mitzvah literally, 'beautifying the mitzvah. The tradition of putting extra time, style, or resources into a mitzvah so that it is performed as beautifully as possible. Passover is already a beautiful Mitzvah when we gather around the table, eat delicious food and retell and reenact an amazing freedom story. Our artists Haggadah from the Artist Collective of Chicago makes any Seder table even more beautiful. The powerful art from these amazing artists adds an even deeper meaning and level into the Seder experience. Just stopping to look at the pictures enables your mind to wander and your spirit to soar. It raises questions and provides answers. No matter if you are a wise art critic, a simple one, a wicked one or if you don’t even like art....this Haggadah will stir your soul. Adding this Haggadah to your collection will certainly beautify the mitzvah.
Rabbi Steven Stark LowensteinAm Shalom, Glencoe, Illinois
Out of the Narrows has captured the spirit of the Seder: a group of friends gathered together to celebrate Passover. The art is imaginative and beautiful; the fonts (both Hebrew and English) are attractive and clear. A joy to behold and to hold.
Dr. Harry Kanin
I am a Cantor. My greatest joy is to join my voice with others in prayer, celebration and gratitude. During these many months of remote communication, I have longed for the harmonies and shared voices of others around the Shabbat and Pesach table. The visual feast and stunning reflections from the artists who contributed to Out of the Narrows not only tells the story of our people's redemption; it also provides sweet relief and respite from the loneliness of not being able to gather with loved ones and community as we so wish to do. For this, my community and I offer our sincere love and gratitude. Thank you, thank you; and Kol HaKavod!
Cantor Julie Yugend-Green
Oak Park Temple B'nai Abraham Zion
"The Artist's Haggadah is not only a modern version of a timeless book and a labor of love by creative, talented, committed and knowledgeable Jewish artists, but, it is also a compendium of wonderful artwork, in three genres, sculpture, painting and weaving, joined with stories from the Exodus, which resonate with us today. The texts added to the artwork by these dedicated and thoughtful artists makes this Haggadah a 'must have' for your Haggadah collection, or one that you will cherish and enjoy using each Pesach for many years."
Marc N. Blumenthal
Our family used Out of the Narrows: The Artist's Haggadah in 2020 for our family Seder. We enjoyed reading the traditional Passover story together while taking time to admire the artists' works with commentaries. This Haggadah definitely enhanced our precious family gathering with the beauty and vibrancy of the art imbedded throughout the Haggadah. Out of the Narrows is bursting with color and meaning. I have now recommended this contemporary Passover Haggadah to my friends to enhance their family experiences.
Ellen Perlow, Atlanta, GA
The traditional Passover Haggadah is only the framework for the seder. Out of the Narrows: The Artist's Haggadah inspires meaning to the seder through visually interpreting the traditional passages. This visual midrash brings the text to life, and provides an entry to young and old, novice and experienced alike. I'll be using this book to prepare for my seders for many years.
Peter Levavi, Skokie, IL
For years, our family has sought the "perfect" Haggadah to help us celebrate the joys of Passover. I believe the Jewish Artists Collective Chicago version fits the bill. In a family of mixed religions, we have sometimes struggled to bring forth with succinctness and clarity the inspiring details of the Israelites' flight from Egypt. The goal has always been to tell the story and revel in the many intriguing symbols of the evening without getting so bogged down in minutiae that the message of hope and liberation is lost. This Haggadah, accented so beautifully with its magnificent original artwork, allows us to do that by telling the story in Hebrew and English with a free flowing and easy to navigate style. Without question our family has embraced this Haggadah and will use it in the years to come.
Thomas A. Hennick, Durham, Connecticut, Public Education Officer, Freedom of Information Commission, State of Connecticut
Dear Berit, Susan, Dorit, Jonathan, Alan, Ellen, Judith, Carol, Amy, Beth and Jane,
I had the great pleasure of using the JACC Haggadah at my seder this year and want to extend my most heartfelt congratulations to each of you on this monumental achievement. Every detail of the project was so beautifully and thoughtfully executed—from the fresh layout and typography, to the stunning and varied artwork, to the sensitive and original commentaries and prompts. It was a treat to see some familiar work from the artist's lab, and most of all, to witness how the group endures as such a productive space for collaboration and connection.
Sending my best wishes to each of you and hoping that we will all soon emerge from the narrows and into wide open space!
Warmly, Ilana Segal Robicsek
Curator and publisher Art of memory
Upcoming Exhibits of artwork from Out of the Narrows:
Haggadot: Old and New: Dr. Bernard Heller Museum: January 8, 2024-May 2, 2024 New York, NY
The Rissman Kol Ami Collection: March 21-July 11, 2022, Highland Park, IL
Shainberg Art Gallery: March 13, 2022, Memphis, TN
Offon Art Gallery: April 17, 2022, Indianapolis, IN
Janice Charach Gallery: Fall 2022, Detroit, MI
Dr. Bernard Heller Museum: 2024, Hebrew Union College, New York, NY