Why did characters in the book risk their lives in order to protect the book in People of the Book?
The Haggadah is symbolic of peace and the melding of cultures.
The book has always been important, and at times controversial. Who should keep the book has often been argued. The condition of the book and who has cared for it over the years tells the story of who has had it at different times.
For example, during World War II it was especially important to protect the book. The protector of the book was charged as a collaborator by the Soviet’s and persecuted and imprisoned, including solitary confinement for six years. Hanna marvels at this.
“I mean, it wasn’t like he was a soldier or even a political activist…people like that, you think, well, they know what the stakes are. But he was just a librarian…” (Hanna, p. 100)
Hanna’s reaction makes sense. Why would anyone go through so much for a book? Because the book was special.
The Haggadah is so much more than a book to the people of Sarajevo. The book is old, unique, and special. Its caretakers want to protect it because it has survived so long. They feel a connection to it as a sign of a time when different religions were able to live peacefully side by side. Christians, Jews, and Muslims once co-existed in Sarajevo. It is symbolic of that, because the beautiful illustrations are uncommon to Jewish texts.