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From Our Artifacts Collection

The Passover Haggadah Rescued From a Pile of Ashes

The cover of the Haggadah The note Rabbi Spiegel wrote in the Haggadah A page from inside the Haggadah Rabbi Meir Shmuel Spiegel The final family photograph of the Spiegel family, Berlin, 1939. The only one to survive was Aaron (first from left)

On a snowy day in 1934, Rabbi Shmuel Spiegel, a resident of Berlin, passed through a courtyard where a heap of ashes and the scorched remnants of Jewish holy books burned by the Nazis were strewn in the snow.

At the edge of the smouldering pile, Rabbi Spiegel noticed a Passover Haggadah. Its edges were singed but the book itself had not burned, thanks to the snow soaking it. Rabbi Spiegel took the Haggadah home, dried it and attached a handwritten note:

“After the Nazis (may their memory be erased) displayed their might and burned myriads of valuable books on a pyre, I was walking one day, and happened upon the courtyard where the ashes of the scorched books were heaped. The pile was covered with a layer of snow that had fallen in the meantime, and at the edge of the pile I found this Haggadah, which had not been completely burned, only slightly singed. I picked it up - it was completely sodden because of the melted snow - and I took it home as a keepsake.
Berlin, winter 1934"

Rabbi Spiegel took the singed Haggadah with him when he immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1936.

Three of his four children, his son Tzvi-Hermann and his daughters Rachel and Gisella perished in the Holocaust with their families. His daughter Chana immigrated to Eretz Israel in the 1930s.

The Haggadah was kept in the family home in Tel Aviv. Chana’s grandson Ilan Ganot donated the Haggadah to Yad Vashem through the Gathering the Fragments campaign.