Frances Dinkelspiel tells the history of the Judah L. Magnes Museum and the establishment of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at The Bancroft Library in the Fall 2010 edition of Bancroftiana, Newsletter of the Friends of The Bancroft Library.
The etrog (Heb. אתרוג, citrus fruit) is one of the “Four Species” used during the rituals relating to the Festival of Sukkot (or Tabernacles). Following rabbinic interpretations (based on the Mishnah and the Talmud, Sukkah), the “Four Species” (a date palm frond, myrtle and willow branches, and an etrog) are typically acquired during the days between Yom Kippur [...]
Greetings from my new home at the Bancroft and Happy Holidays! These days and months, preparing for the visible storage of the Magnes Collection in its future home in downtown Berkeley, I am busy researching art and artifacts in the art storage facility where the collection will be kept until its move. Quite prophetically, a [...]
Congratulations to the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life (USC) for publishing the seventh volume of its Annual Review (August 2010). A Cultural History of Jews in California, edited by Bruce Zuckerman with William Deverell (guest editor) and Lisa Ansell (associate editor) covers a topic that is defined as [...]
As the archivist for The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the Bancroft Library, I am currently stationed out at a new, state-of-the-art storage facility on Regatta Blvd in Richmond, California. The Western Jewish History Center archival collections, housed for forty three years in the attic of the Magnes Museum building on Russell [...]
A month after the move from Judah L. Magnes Museum‘s former home on Russell Street, and the creation of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, our staff is settled in its new quarters and is wasting no time in anticipation of the grand [...]
A “Torah binder” is a Jewish ceremonial textile used to keep a Torah scroll closed tightly when it is not being used for synagogue reading. In some Jewish communities in Germany and Eastern Europe, Torah binders were made from the linen or cotton cloth used to cover new-born males during the Circumcision ceremony (brit milah). The [...]
The modern cultural genre of the picture postcard, which is well represented in the Magnes collection (which includes over 3,000 postcards, and many greeting cards), is explored in a recent essay by Hebrew University’s Professor of Folklore and Professor of Hebrew Literature, Galit Hasan-Rokem. The article, which opens with quotations from Walter Benjamin and Susan [...]
At the center of a large architectural edifice, a man contemplates “the terrestrial globe bursting forth from the midst of clouds and receiving luminous emanations from the Most High.” Around this image is a fantastically elaborate array of niches containing narrative scenes, friezes and frames enclosing blocks of text, rows of figures, Kabbalistic symbols and programs, Zodiac signs, and divine names. Beneath, in Hebrew and English, is the title “Origin of the Rites and Worship of the Hebrews”. The work was reproduced and published for the American public in 1859 together with an “Explication”, a one hundred twelve page explanatory booklet translated from the original French, 3 by Max Wolff, rabbi of Ohabei Shalom Congregation in Boston, who later served as a cantor in San Francisco.
The Magnes’ magnificent red and gold Torah ark from India is now on display in the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s year-long exhibition “As it is Written.” It has not been exhibited since the museum’s Telling Time exhibit in 1999-2000 and the CJM show gives it a spectacular setting.