Sukkah Soul Blog


March 21-10 Nisan 5773 - Had Gadya

El Lissitzky’s ‘Had Gaya’ and Frank Stella’s ‘Had Gadya – after El Lissitzky’ will be featured leading up to and including Pesach.  Both are fabulous.


With his illustrated book of the Passover song ‘Had Gadya’ (The only kid), dated 6 February 1919, the Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky (1890-1941) had reached a pivotal moment in his career.   For the past four years, he had focused almost exclusively on the study of Jewish folk culture and the design and illustration of books in Yiddish….Lissitzky’s ‘Had gadya’ marks the culmination of his artistic and personal engagement with Judaica.  One of the last works that he signed under his Hebrew given name, Eliezer, the book displays Lissitzky’s interest, at once playful and reverent, in the languages and symbols of the Jewish culture.  Instead of the traditional Aramaic, Lissitzky chose Yiddish for the song’s verses, which he set in architectural frames…..Though Lissitzky’s focus in terms of subject matter would soon change dramatically, in his experimentation with language, typography, and architectural form, we can already see in the ‘Had gadya’ many of the elements that would define his avant-garde work in the following decades.

-by Nancy Perloff in the facsimile of the book

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Title Page of ‘Had Gadya’ by El Lissitzky

Young boy (also a kid) holds an open book that displays the title of the song.

Under the boy’s feet are the publication details and the artist’s name:

Drawn and lithographed (yellow), Kiev, 1919, Eliezer Lissitzky (black)