Ear­li­er this week, artist Jan Aron­son wrote about how she became an illus­tra­tor and her illus­tra­tions for The Bronf­man Hag­gadah. She will be blog­ging here all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

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.

Jan Aron­son is the illus­tra­tor of the The Bronf­man Hag­gadah pub­lished by Riz­zoli. Born in New Orleans, New York-based artist Jan Aron­son has had more than sev­en­ty solo and group exhi­bi­tions. Her work is includ­ed in many muse­um, cor­po­rate, and pri­vate col­lec­tions, both nation­al­ly and internationally.

Aron­son received a MFA from Pratt Insti­tute in 1973 and began teach­ing soon after. For the past 23 years she has con­cen­trat­ed on her work in a stu­dio in Long Island City. She is known for her nature inspired work that has tak­en her to Sinai, the Indi­an Himalayas, Patag­o­nia, the Ama­zon, the Amer­i­can West, the beach­es of Anguil­la and the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. She recent­ly wrote a lec­ture enti­tled The Con­tem­po­rary Por­trait and pre­sent­ed it in var­i­ous venues in the Unit­ed States.

Aronson’s work has been reviewed in numer­ous peri­od­i­cals and news­pa­pers since she began her exhi­bi­tion career in the mid-seventies.

A Depar­ture From the Tra­di­tion­al: The Bronf­man Haggadah

How I Became an Illustrator

Why I Put a Map in the Bronf­man Haggadah