Lifestyle & Belief

This Bosnian War survivor has a musical interpretation of the Sarajevo Haggadah

Merima_CROP.jpg

Credit: Marco Werman

Merima Ključo

As Passover begins, Jews around the world will refer to the passover text, or Haggadah, as they sit down to the seder dinner.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

And the music of Merima Ključo is inspired by one particular Haggadah: a book known as the Sarajevo Haggadah.

Today it's under lock and key in that city.

But it was written back in the 14th century, probably in Barcelona, and it was illustrated in brilliant primary colors and gold leaf.

This was during the Convivencia, a time when Spanish Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived reportedly in great harmony.

But then came the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from Spain.

This was the moment when the long trek of this haggadah began.

The book's travels echoed the wandering Jewish population and the constant threat that the book would be destroyed.

The book also reflected Jewish hope of survival.

The powerful story of the Haggadah was turned into the novel "People of the Book" in 2008 by former journalist Geraldine Brooks.

The book inspired Merima Ključo, who is both a composer and accordian player, to spearhead a musical project.

Ključo is a survivor of the Bosnian war and the potency of this story of the Sarajevo Haggadah was inescapable, especially with Sarajevo as the capital of an independent Bosnia.

She says she's fascinated with the Saravjevo Haggadah because it's a "symbol of how you care for a culture that's not your own culture, but it's part of your culture because you live together."

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