The Hitler Hag­gadah: A Moroc­can Jew­’s Wartime Retelling of the Passover Story

Simon Coif­feur

  • Review
By – March 10, 2021

The Hitler Hag­gadah was com­posed in Judeo-Ara­bic by Nis­sim ben Shi­mon. Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Rabat in 1943, it is a retelling of the Passover sto­ry through the eyes of the Holo­caust vic­tims of Nazi Germany’s North African cam­paign and the dev­as­ta­tion brought on North African Jew­ry. It also cel­e­brates lib­er­a­tion through the vic­to­ry of Oper­a­tion Torch — the Allied forces cam­paign in North Africa. The book is a mul­ti­lin­gualedi­tion, includ­ing Eng­lish and Hebrew trans­la­tions of the Judeo-Ara­bic, an intro­duc­tion to each trans­la­tion, and com­men­tary by Avishai Bar-Ash­er, Adi Schnytzer, and Jon­nie Schnytzer — aca­d­e­mics from Hebrew and Bar Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty respec­tive­ly. It also includes a fac­sim­i­le of the orig­i­nal text. This Hag­gadah fol­lows the struc­ture and lin­guis­tic style of a tra­di­tion­al Hag­gadah, more read­i­ly rec­og­niz­able in the Hebrew trans­la­tion. The Hitler Hag­gadah is a cap­ti­vat­ing win­dow into the expe­ri­ences of North African Jews dur­ing World War II, a less-explored dimen­sion of Holo­caust his­to­ry. This Hag­gadah can be used to sup­ple­ment your Seder but does not include the orig­i­nal Hag­gadah text. How­ev­er, The Hitler Hag­gadah is a wor­thy addi­tion to a col­lec­tion of Passover books and Judaica.

This is part of the Passover 5781/2021 Hag­gadah Roundup.

Jonathan Fass is the Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion­al Tech­nol­o­gy and Strat­e­gy at The Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion Project of New York.

Discussion Questions