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YU News

Pascheles for Pesach, 1849

Call no.: rare BM674.645 .L36 1849
The Leah Adler zt"l Rare Books and Manuscripts Fund

Did you ever wonder if the Maxwell House Haggadah was the first one to advertise its product? Generations before Maxwell House, in 1849, a Haggadah featured an ad for Kosher for Passover wine prominently on a full page on its back cover. The wine merchant was Wolf Pascheles.  An outstretched hand (a manicule) pointed out the important information that Pascheles  himself traveled from Prague to Hungary to select high quality wine for his customers. The wine was sold in his bookstore and printing house, located at Breite Gasse 126 in Josefstadt, Prague.

The Haggadah featuring the ad was translated into German and published by M. I. [Moshe Israel] Landau, a well-known community leader and Hebrew publisher in Prague. The Haggadah was attractive, with woodcuts by an unknown artist.

Pascheles and Landau were both publishers in Prague in the mid-nineteenth century.  Pascheles opened the first Jewish bookstore in Prague in 1836. He was best known for publishing Sippurim [Stories, 1846], recently described as:  “The Family Treasure Box of Jewish Knowledge”.  It was very popular and was published in many editions; it was translated into English in 1908 as Jewish Legends of the Middle Ages. Also of note is a German prayerbook for women, Stunden der Andacht by Fanny Neuda which was a best-seller and republished well into the twentieth century.

Landau was also an important publisher in Prague, as well as a writer of lexicographical works, a contributor to maskilic journals, and a translator of classic and liturgical Hebrew works. Landau supervised the books he published very carefully, and they rarely had any typographical errors. One of Landau’s most significant works is Marpe Lashon; Landau gathered and translated difficult words in Rashi’s writings into German. Landau also published Moses Mendelssohn’s Biur, his German Bible translation,    in a twenty-volume edition.

Although it may seem odd that Pascheles placed an ad in a Haggadah Landau published, by the time the Haggadah was published in 1849, Landau was working with other publishers in Prague, including Wolf Pascheles. 

Pascheles’ wines are long gone; the kosher wine market has grown and expanded exponentially since the 1840s. Pascheles would have marveled at today’s choices of wine. The plethora of Haggadot would have astounded both publishers. And Passover, the holiday of Jewish freedom, lives on, no matter which Haggadah or wine you choose.


Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.  Entry on M.I. Landau / Sharon Flatto; Entry on Wolf Pascheles / Daniel Polakovič.

Encyclopaedia Judaica;  Jewish Encyclopedia; Wikipedia: entries on M.I. Landau and Wolf Pascheles.

“Wolf Pascheles: The Family Treasure Box of Jewish Knowledge” / Kerstin Mayerhofer and Magdaléna Farnesi. In:  Judaica Olomucensia 2015, 1/Special Issue: Jewish Printing Culture between Brno, Prague and Vienna in the Era of Modernization, 1750–1850.

“The fall and rise of Hebrew book printing in Bohemia 1780-1850” / Iveta Cermanová. In: Hebrew printing in Bohemia and Moravia / Olga Sixtová (ed.) ; [translation, Pavel Sládek [and others]]. Prague : Academia : Jewish Museum in Prague, 2012.

Posted by Shulamith Z. Berger