The Great and The Small: Purim & The Magnes Collection

Posted by Francesco Spagnolo on Friday March 18 2011

Far From Where? Jews and China in Modern Times

Purim Greetings from China. JWB (The Jewish War Bond), postcard, 1940′s
Alvin I. Fine papers, 1848-1962, WJHC 1977.002
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, The Bancroft Library
[image file: wjhc1977-002-001]

The spirit of Purim is high with The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life!

So, let’s bring on the metaphors… (And, if you need a refresher course, do check out the Hebrew-English version of The Book of Esther, available online at mechon-mamre.org).

To begin, let’s remember that, not unlike Queen Esther, The Magnes Collection is indeed a beauty.

See for yourself, and take a look at an 18-th century Hungarian illustration of the story of Esther (complete with Hebrew blessings for the reading of the megilah):

67-1-6-17.jpg

Illustration of Story of Esther and Blessings for the reading of the Megilah, Hungary, 18th century
Judah L. Magnes Museum Purchase, Strauss Collection
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, The Bancroft Library, 67.1.6.17

Then enjoy a slideshow of “our” Esther Scrolls:

Indeed, the Collection inhabits one of the great (academic) capitals of the world, an intellectual Shushan of our days.

In case you missed it, you can read here how UC Berkeley announced the arrival of The Magnes Collection to its Campus last summer. And you can also read last summer’s coverage in the New York Times, the LA Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle

Now, you may ask, who is the villain in the story, and where is the great threat?

Well, there are no villains in this story, as the threat has been averted. The collection was carefully packed, and all of its holdings are safely stored in view of their imminent move to an even more beautiful new location, in downtown Berkeley.

And when we say “all of them,” we really mean all of them, from the great to the small (למגדול ועד קתן, Esther 1:5), like the Esther Scrolls in the collection, which are currently stored here:

This story, too, leads to a big party. It will not be for this Purim, which begins in a little over 24 hours, but it is planned before the next.

Our move to the new facility will begin this summer, and continue through the Fall. We can’t wait to see you all here:

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Filed under: Collections andRandom Musings

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