The Magnes Collection

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life was established in 2010 after the transfer of the Judah L. Magnes Museum to the University of California, Berkeley. Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West. As one of the preeminent Jewish collections in the world, it provides highly innovative and accessible resources to both scholars and visitors.

The Magnes new home in downtown Berkeley accommodates research and teaching, and offers the general public a place to gather for exhibitions, lectures, performances and other events that foster community, learning, and growth.

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Manuscript [2012.10.1]: Painted Ketubbah (Italy, 1827) on Flickr.

A recent gift to The Magnes Collection:

Painted manuscript ketubbah from the town of Revere, near Mantua (Italy), framed by a Hebrew inscription quoting Isaiah 61:10-11 (שוש אשיש ביהוה תגל נפשי באלהי כי הלבישני בגדי־ישע מעיל צדקה יעטני כחתן יכהן פאר וככלה תעדה כליה׃ כי כארץ תוציא צמחה וכגנה זרועיה תצמיח כן ׀ אדני יהוה יצמיח צדקה ותהלה נגד כל־הגוים), surmounted by a wedding formula in Aramaic (בסימנא טבא ובמזלא מעליא), and illustrated with twelve vignettes depicting biblical scenes, including: Adam, Eve, the serpent, the tree of knowledge and a cherub with a flamin sword (Genesis 2-3); Noah’s ark (Genesis 6-7); the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22); Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28); Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39); Moses and Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2); Moses at Mount Horeb (Exodus 7); David and Goliath (1 Samuel: 17); Solomon’s judgment (1 Kings: 3); Samson (Judges 16:29); and Mordecai’s parade with Haman (Esther 6). Stamped on top corners with the revenue stamp (“Bollo Straordinario”) of the Tax Authority (“Controlleria”) of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia.

The Magnes Open House: Jan 22, 2012 by MagnesMuseum on Flickr.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Irving Rabin, Bay Area entrepreneur, former president of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, and supporter extraordinaire of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley.

We will soon post more about Irv and his many achievements. In the meantime, we like to remember him with a photograph that portrays him at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of our new facility in January.

Zikhrono li-vrakhah. May his memory always be a blessing.

Alla Efimova, Director
Francesco Spagnolo, Curator
The staff of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

Publications of the Judah L. Magnes Museum: An Inventory Project

This is The Magnes: Yom ha-Shoah 5772 | Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012.

Three Generations (2003), from the portfolio One Family by Vardi Kahana (Israel, 2007) (Accession No. 2010.3.21)

Three Generations is the concluding image in the documentary project by Israeli photographer Vardi Kahana, One Family (2007). In the artist’s words: “This is the story of one family. It is the entire Jewish-Israeli narrative embodied in a single family. This is my family. To the big question of Jewish-Israeli identity, the photographs of my family provide a kaleidoscope of answers.”

The first photograph in the portfolio, Three Sisters, depicts Kahana’s mother Rivka, with her two sisters Leah and Esther, each with her left sleeve rolled up to expose consecutive inmate numbers tattooed on their forearms. Having survived Auschwitz, Rivka and her sisters live in Israel with thirty-one grandchildren; two of them have thirty-five great-grandchildren.

Link to the Magnes database record.

Bustan Quartet, Israel’s world music supergroup, performing at The Magnes earlier tonight as part of the Jewish Music Festival. A full house!

This is The Magnes: Bustan Quartet, Israeli world music supergroup, holding an open rehearsal in Francesco Spagnolo’s UC Berkeley Music Department class, “Music in Israel,” taught at The Magnes.

This is The Magnes: Niels Bultmann (viola and voice) performs “Shma” by Israeli composer Emmanuel Witzthum, whose installation, “Dissolving Localities,” is on view in the main gallery through July.