MOCRA Programs and Events

Stephen P. Durchslag
"The Jewish Experience and the Haggadah"

held in conjunction with the exhibition Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah
this lecture is part of the MOCRA Voices podcast and lecture series

Sunday, May 20, 2012    2:00 p.m.    free and open to the public
held at Xavier Hall Theatre, directly across from MOCRA
reception to follow at MOCRA

Traffic Advisory
The Grand Bridge is closed for reconstruction. This project affects many of the routes for driving to MOCRA, as well as public transportation options.

  • Click here for a map and directions to special parking options for the lecture.
  • Click here for more information about the Grand Bridge closure.

Woodcut illustration from a Haggadah, Jacob Steinhardt, 1923. Collection of Stephen Durchslag

Detail from a woodcut illustration from a Haggadah illustrated by
Jacob Steinhardt, 1923.
From the Stephen Durchslag Haggadah collection.

The Jewish holiday of Passover recalls and celebrates the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The haggadah is the book that contains the ritual guide to the Passover Seder meal, along with scripture passages, commentary, prayers, and songs. For centuries the haggadah has been one of the most celebrated items of Jewish literature and art. The Exodus narrative and its primary theme of liberation from oppression have resonated with people in many times and places over the centuries, who have adapted the haggadah to respond to political and social developments such as the Holocaust, feminism, and gay rights. There are many examples of both handwritten and printed haggadot with intricate illustrations. Some haggadot are unique masterpieces, while others have been printed in large, widely available editions.

Stephen Durchslag holds what is considered to be the largest private collection of haggadot in the world, numbering some 4,500 volumes dating from 1485 to the present day. Drawing on examples from his collection, he will show how the haggadah is a central element of the Jewish experience, a text that sustains both tradition and innovation, and is a vehicle for myriad expressions of the Jewish imagination.

Durchslag, now retired, was an attorney for 44 years at the Winston and Strawn Law Firm in Chicago, serving as Chair of the Intellectual Properties Department of the firm. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. His wife Ruth is an ordained rabbi and psychologist, and they are the parents of two beautiful daughters.

MOCRA Voices logoMOCRA Voices is made possible through the financial support of the Regional Arts Commission.  Regional Arts Commission logo

Please note: You can watch the embedded video, or click the Vimeo link at lower right to see the full-size video.
Click here to visit the MOCRA Voices page for this video.

More information

For additional information, please contact MOCRA.

For a map and directions to special parking options for the talk, click here.


To learn about an exhibition of works from the Stephen P. Durchslag Collection on display at the University of Chicago, click here.

To read an interview with Stephen Durchslag that appeared in Haaretz, click here.

For more information about the exhibition Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah, click here.

To learn more about the MOCRA Voices series, click here.

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