JBuzz Musings October 12, 2014: Bible Lands Museum oldest siddur on display despite mystery surrounding the book




Bible Lands Museum oldest siddur on display despite mystery surrounding the book

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Until Oct. 18, 2014, the public can have the opportunity to view what is being touted as the oldest known surviving siddur, Jewish prayer book. This 9th century medieval manuscript is currently on display at the Bible…READ MORE

JBuzz News September 19, 2014: Oldest Jewish Prayer Book on Display for the First Time at Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem




Oldest Jewish Prayer Book on Display for the First Time

Source: PMO, 9-18-14
יום חמישי כ”ג אלול תשע”ד


Photo by Haim Zah, GPO

Prime Minister Netanyahu upon receiving the prayer book: “It is a connection between our past and present and that is something of great value.”…READ MORE

JBuzz News January 21, 2014: UNESCO exhibit on Jewish ties to Israel rescheduled for June




UNESCO exhibit on Jewish ties to Israel rescheduled for June

Source: Times of Israel, 1-21-13

UNESCO's Director General Irina Bokova poses with the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier and a poster for the exhibit on the Jewish people's 3,500 connection to the land of Israel which she subsequently cancelled. (photo credit: Courtesy Simon Wiesenthal Center)

UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova poses with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier and a poster for the exhibit on the Jewish people’s 3,500-year connection to the land of Israel, which she subsequently cancelled. (photo credit: Courtesy Simon Wiesenthal Center)

UN body had faced storm of criticism for canceling ‘People, Book, Land: The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land’ show under Arab pressure, claiming it could ‘endanger peace process’…READ MORE


JBuzz Musings August 4, 2013: Israeli President Shimon Peres honors Latvian and Lituanian Holocaust victims




Israeli President Shimon Peres honors Latvian and Lituanian Holocaust victims

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This past week Israeli President Shimon Peres embarked on a four day trip to Latvia and Lituania from July 29 to August 1, 2013. Although it was a diplomatic mission filled with state dinners and meetings with the heads of…READ MORE

JBuzz News June 19, 2013: Giovanni Palatucci: Italian Praised for Saving Jews Is Now Seen as Nazi Collaborator




Italian Praised for Saving Jews Is Now Seen as Nazi Collaborator

Source: NYT, 6-19-13

Information about Giovanni Palatucci, celebrated for saving Jews, is being removed from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in light of evidence that the tales may be untrue….READ MORE


JBuzz News June 13, 2013: Exhibition at Auschwitz-Birkenau Honors Children of Holocaust




Exhibition at Auschwitz-Birkenau Honors Children of Holocaust

Janek Skarzynski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel found the name of Judith, the twin sister of his father-in-law, among the Book of Names exhibit at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Thursday.

Source: NYT, 6-13-13

A multimedia exhibition that tries to push visitors beyond their knowledge of the facts of the Nazis’ Final Solution was dedicated on Thursday….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 18, 2013: Museum of Polish Jews: Polish Museum Repairs a Tie to a Jewish Past




Polish Museum Repairs a Tie to a Jewish Past

Source: NYT, 4-18-13

Among civic leaders in Warsaw, a new Jewish museum is seen as a major step toward recognizing Poland’s Jewish past and recovering from its 20th-century traumas….READ MORE

JBuzz News January 27, 2013: Yad Vashem marks worldwide commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day




Yad Vashem marks worldwide commemoration

Source: Jerusalem Post, 1-27-13

“Gathering the Fragments” brings in collection of personal items at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem….READ MORE

JBuzz News December 12, 2012: Benjamin Nathans: University of Pennsylvania professor helps bring new Jewish Museum to Russia




Penn professor helps bring new Jewish Museum to Russia

Source: Penn Current, 12-13-12

Jewish Museum Russia

Ralph Appelbaum Associates

View of Migrations and Shtetl Studios at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Russia. The museum opened in Moscow last month.

A new $50 million museum chronicling the richness and complexity of Jewish life and culture in Russia—the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center—opened in Moscow last month, and Penn’s Benjamin Nathans, the Ronald S. Lauder Endowed Term Associate Professor of History in the School of Arts & Sciences, played a key role in creating the state-of-the-art institution.

An expert on Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union, and modern European Jewish history, Nathans chaired the international academic advisory committee that designed the content for the 40,000-square-foot museum, and brought scholars from Russia, Israel, and the United States on board to compose the various exhibitions….READ MORE

Jane Davis: Poet Emma Lazarus embodied Jewish values




Jane Davis: Poet Emma Lazarus embodied Jewish values

Source: Huntsville Times, 11-18-11

Emma Lazarus: Nov. 14, 2011 Emma Lazarus: Nov. 14, 2011

Jane Davis, a professor of history and religion, invites visitors to the exhibit about poet Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty. at Athens-Limestone Public Library through Dec. 16, 2011. (The Huntsville Times/Kay Campbell) Watch video

Emma Lazarus, the poet and essayist who wrote the famous “Give me your tired, your poor” lines now enshrined in the base of the Statue of Liberty, came from one of the founding families of the United States.
But during the frenzied years around the Civil War, she found herself, because her family was Jewish, cast as an outsider as virulent anti-Semitism began to rise in the U.S.

Lazarus’ own paradoxical insider-outsider status as well as Judaism’s emphasis on the importance of caring for the community created in the mostly secular poet a deep sympathy for the immigrants crowding into her native New York City during the post-war period, says Jane Davis, who has taught history and religion at Calhoun State Community College.

A display of banners giving an overview of the life and times of Lazarus, who died in 1887 at the age of 37, is on view at the Athens-Limestone Public Library, 405 E. South St. in Athens, through Dec. 16.

“She is the one who changed the entire meaning of the Statue of Liberty,” Davis said as she walked through the panels this week. “Her poem refigured it as a beacon of hope to immigrants, not the message of release from monarchy that Bertholdi and the other French creators intended.”…READ MORE

The complete sonnet, “The New Colossus,” posted on the Liberty State Park’s website.

Historical Museum in Lodz: Polish museum opens exhibit October 2 on Warsaw Ghetto Uprising leader Marek Edelman




Polish museum opens exhibit on Warsaw Ghetto Uprising leader

Source: JTA, 10-5-11

A Polish museum has opened a section dedicated to Marek Edelman, one of the commanders of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis.

The exhibit at the Historical Museum in Lodz opened Oct. 2, two years after Edelman died at the age of 90.

Edelman, a cardiologist by profession, lived and worked in Lodz after World War II, and the exhibition is arranged to evoke his home and office. The display uses his furniture, books, photographs and other objects.

A longtime human and social rights activist, Edelman joined the anti-Communist Solidarity movement in 1980 and was interned by Poland’s Martial Law authorities. After the fall of communism, he served as a member of Parliament and was awarded Poland’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the White Eagle, as well as the French Legion of Honor.

Edna Nahshon: Dolled Up An exhibit in Tel Aviv surveys the changes in Israeli history, and the nation’s self-perception, through the once-popular medium of decorative dolls




Source: Tablet, 7-15-11

A figure of two members of a youth movement sitting on a tree trunk, made in the 1950s.From the Yaron Gayer collection; photos courtesy Eretz Israel Museum

To those who grew up in the pre-television Israel of the 1950s and 1960s—the country’s first broadcast came in 1966—the physical world that lay beyond our narrow territorial confines, its colors, smells, and textures, was often imagined via small personal collections of souvenirs: coins, stamps, cards, matchboxes, empty cologne bottles, napkins, and other potential discards. Modest thematized collections of trivial bric-a-brac went beyond kids’ stuff; grown-ups were equally engaged, showcasing in their modest living-rooms carefully assembled displays of small objects acquired in far-off lands like salt shakers and miniature liquor bottles. The curatorial emphasis was mostly on variety, not aesthetics, the decorative trophies endowing the household with social prestige and marking the collector as diligent and intelligent.

Dolls in national costumes were a particular favorite. These 4-to-7-inch figures were not meant to be played with, and when we children were given permission to hold them—one at a time, and only after our hands were inspected for cleanliness—we were forewarned to handle them carefully, and we felt privileged and trustworthy. Fingering the delicate lace mantilla of the Spanish doll, the tiny dirndl skirt of the Swiss, the gold flecks on the Mexican’s sombrero, or the shiny black boots of the Russian was an unmatched pleasure, a flight of fancy to faraway regions of the imagination, to rivers and mountains and steppes, to languages and sounds, to songs and dances that were as exotic to us as the Orient had been to the European imagination. Yet a measure of local patriotism was never absent from these homey international extravaganzas—every collection I remember included an Israeli doll, usually of a typical sabra in khaki shorts or a Yemenite Jew with long sidelocks in an elaborate ethnic garb, thus asserting our own national identity and our proud membership in the family of nations.

These displays seemed to disappear as I grew older. I never gave them a second thought. The local dolls I sometime glimpsed in store windows now struck me as crass trinkets of the tourist industry, much like the wooden camels with which they often shared space on the same shelves.

A Land and Its Dolls,” a captivating exhibition that opened in May at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, brought back these memories.

Shelly Shenhav-Keller, the anthropologist who curated the exhibition, assembled more than 200 dolls from museums, organizations, and private collectors—some of them non-Israelis who, as tourists, had bought the dolls as mementos of their visit. As souvenirs go, these dolls encapsulate their period’s essential notion of Israeliness, and thus, says Shenhav-Keller, they express important aspects of the construction of Israeli identity and societal values, ranging from the early uniformity of the melting-pot ideal to the multiethnic and multicultural spirit of more recent years.

All the dolls displayed in the exhibition were produced in Israel, first by individual artists and craftspeople and later, as demand grew, by local workshops. The earliest dolls in the exhibition—a middle-eastern man and woman—were created by Rivka Stark-Avivi (1895-1979) in 1919. The most recent ones are from the 1980s: Local production of Israeli souvenir dolls came to an end in the 1990s, when there was little demand for them mostly due to the sharp reduction in tourism caused by the first Intifada. Dolls of a more recent vintage are bound to be made in China….READ MORE

Jonathan Webber: Pepperdine’s ‘Traces of Memory’ exhibit reveals Poland’s Jewish past, heritage

Source: Malibu Times, 2-9-11

A courtyard in Rymanow, Poland, from the book, “Traces of Memory,” from which photographs are now on display at Pepperdine University’s Payson Library. Photo by Chris Schwarz

The most impacting portion to the Payson Library exhibit is dedicated to Holocaust sites of massacre and destruction. Upcoming events and speakers tied to the exhibit take place the end throughout February.

“Traces of Memory: A Contemporary Look at the Jewish Past in Poland,” opened last week in Pepperdine University’s Payson Library. The exhibit, the first of its kind displayed in the campus library, portrays recent images of Polish Galicia in Eastern Europe, as photographed by Chris Schwarz, a late British photojournalist.

At once stark, historical, current and contextual, the objective behind the exhibit was to examine the reclaiming of Poland’s Jewish past and heritage, said Jonathan Webber, an Oxford University professor whose book “Rediscovering Traces of Memory” documents the journeys across Eastern Europe that he and Schwarz embarked upon during the course of a dozen years.

“The idea of this exhibition was to cover a number of emotions and feelings. You just can’t stereotype Poland and say, ‘It’s all in ruins, or it’s all gas chambers,’” Webber said during a phone interview from England last week. “You have to look at that they have gone back to these places and have tried to restore what was before.”

Webber and Schwarz, who died four years ago, undertook the assignment in 1993. The results portray a Poland deteriorated, though sometimes unchanged, since the devastations of World War II….READ MORE

Journey Into Morocco’s Past through The New York Center For Jewish History


Source: Morocco Board, 1-2-11

Sometimes a museum exhibit invites us to inquire further and uncover a body of knowledge that was always there, that others have studied for decades (if not centuries), and that changes the way we look at things.  The small but well-designed museum exhibit, Looking Back: The Jews of Morocco held at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, running through April 18, 2011, is one of these “inviting” museum exhibits.

Taken together with the masterful and lyrical opening night keynote address by University of Oklahoma Professor Norman A. Stillman introducing it on October 14, 2010, the exhibit is recommended for all who are interested in the subject of Jews in Morocco or the Sephardic Jewish experience in North Africa.[1] This article will give an overview of the event and add context with supplemental sources.

Integration of Jews in Morocco for Centuries

The museum provides a selective history of the Jews in Morocco from their arrival in Morocco around 586 B.C.E. (the period of the destruction of the First Temple) to the present.  A series of panels covers their experience and contributions from the earliest Jewish settlements in pre-Islamic times, through the arrival of Arab populations and thereafter, and through the era of the French protectorate (commencing in 1912) and World War II; Moroccan independence in 1956; and the mass Jewish emigration from Morocco.

A key theme of the exhibit is the integration of Jews into Moroccan society. The first panel entitled “Introduction of Moroccan Jewry” notes that “Jews settled among the Berber population [in Morocco] in the pre-Islamic period, and some Berber tribes are said to have converted to Judaism.” Another adds: “A symbiotic relationship between Berbers and Jews was rich and enduring over the centuries.  Conversant in Berber dialects, Jews dressed like Berbers, practiced saint worship like them, and participated in … [their] celebrations.”[2] According to a separate essay by Yaelle Azagury, “[i]n some regions of the Atlas Mountains, Jews lived so close to traditional Arab tribes that one could hardly tell the difference: They looked like Arabs, spoke only Arabic, and possessed a limited awareness of the modern world.”[3] To the same effect, Professor Daniel Schroeter observed in another source that in “Berber-speaking regions, Jews were usually bilingual, speaking Berber with their Muslim neighbors, and Judeo-Arabic at home.  In a few of the most isolated communities of the High Atlas, some Jewish communities spoke Berber only.”[4]READ MORE