Each year at the Passover Seder, Jewish families read from the Haggadah (“telling”), a book that tells the story of deliverance from slavery in Egypt. In 2007, a Jewish rabbi and Emory College alum named Rabbi David Geffen offered his collection of Haggadot to the Pitts Theology Library. We were surprised and delighted at this generous offer, which would lay the foundation for a new direction of collecting for the library. To build a collection of Haggadot at Emory would enable faculty and students from across the university to explore this religious observance and how it has been adapted for and nourished faith communities across the globe. Rabbi Geffen donated his 99 Haggadot to the Pitts Library, forming “The David Geffen Haggadot Collection.” As word spread in the Jewish community, Lauren Azoulai contacted the Pitts Library about her father’s collection. Richard K. Goldstein was a Jewish social worker, who for 30 years had been collecting Haggadot, enlisting family and friends in his efforts. He decided to donate 579 Haggadot to Pitts, forming “The Richard K. Goldstein Haggadah Collection.” Since these two gifts, several others have donated Haggadot to the Pitts Theology Library, and so the library continues to be blessed.
To commemorate the beginning of Emory’s Haggadot collections, the Pitts Theology Library has found an ally in the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, and the two will mount an exhibit on March 7 – June 30, 2016 in the new exhibition gallery of the Pitts Library. Curated by Adam T. Strater, the exhibit, “Reading the Telling: The Passover Haggadah Across Time and Place,” is open to the public at no charge, during regular library hours. Free tours will be offered on select Friday afternoons. Register for a tour at: http://pitts.emory.edu/exhibits/tours.cfm.