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

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

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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 June 21, 2014: Jewish Museum Berlin appoints non-Jewish Peter Schafer as new director

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Jewish Museum Berlin appoints new director

Source: The Times of Israel, 6-21-14

Peter Schafer, a German academic who had previously led Princeton University’s Judaic studies program, will take the reins of the Jewish Museum Berlin as of September 1, according to an announcement made Friday….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 10, 2014: National Library of Israel acquires rare Montefiore Haggadah

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National Library of Israel acquires rare Montefiore Haggadah

Source: Baltimore Jewish Times, 4-10-14

The National Library of Israel has acquired a rare Passover Haggadah that once belonged to well-known philanthropist Moses Montefiore, Israel Hayom reported…READ MORE

JBuzz Musings November 24, 2013: Rare 18th century illuminated Haggadah sold at auction

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Rare 18th century illuminated Haggadah sold at auction

By Bonnie K. Goodman

A rare illustrated manuscript, a Passover Haggadah dated from 1726, named the Manchester Haggadah, because of the location where it was found, was sold on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 at Adam Partridge Auction House in Macclesfield in their Cheshire Saleroom…READ MORE

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

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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

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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 May 29, 2013: Mauro Perani: Oldest Known Complete Torah scroll found at University of Bologna Library in Italy

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Old Torah scroll found in Italy university library

An Italian expert in Hebrew manuscripts says he has found the oldest known complete Torah scroll, a sheepskin document dating from 1155-1225. Photo / AP

An Italian expert in Hebrew manuscripts says he has found the oldest known complete Torah scroll, a sheepskin document dating from 1155-1225. Photo / AP

An Italian expert in Hebrew manuscripts said Wednesday he has discovered the oldest known complete Torah scroll, a sheepskin document dating from 1155-1225. It was right under his nose, in the University of Bologna library, where it had been mistakenly catalogued a century ago as dating from the 17th century.

The find isn’t the oldest Torah text in the world: the Leningrad and the Aleppo bibles – both of them Hebrew codexes, or books – pre-date the Bologna scroll by more than 200 years. But this is the oldest Torah scroll of the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, according to Mauro Perani, a professor of Hebrew in the University of Bologna’s cultural heritage department….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 27, 2013: London family robbed of $30,000 in Judaica while sleeping

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London family robbed of $30,000 in Judaica while sleeping

Source: JTA, 5-27-13

Judaica artifacts worth approximately $30,000 were stolen from a Jewish family in northern London….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 27, 2013: Friedberg Genizah Project: Computer network to help break Cairo Genizah codes

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Computer network to help break Cairo Genizah codes

Source: JTA, 5-27-13

The Friedberg Genizah Project will use a high performance computer network at Tel Aviv University Cairo Genizah to break the codes of the Cairo Genizah….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 29, 2013: Israel Museum & the Metropolitan Museum of Art buy Maimonides medieval Jewish manuscript

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Museums buy Steinhardts’ medieval Jewish manuscript

Source: JTA, 4-29-13

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York jointly bought a medieval religious text by Rabbi Moshe Maimonides….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 25, 2013: First look inside luminous Museum of the History of Polish Jews

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First look inside luminous Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Source: Jweekly.com, 4-25-13

“This was a world in color,” said Jewish studies professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, speaking of the 1,000-year Jewish presence in Poland, “and not the black and white we know from photographs.” She made her point last week in Warsaw….READ MORE

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

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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 April 2, 2013: Belarus to build Jewish museum inside old synagogue

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Belarus to build Jewish museum inside old synagogue

Source: JTA, 4-2-13

The government of Belarus said it will renovate one of the country’s oldest synagogues and turn it into a Jewish museum….READ MORE

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

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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 19, 2012: Jewish Publication Society & University of Nebraska Press: A Jewish Publisher and a University Press Make Their Marriage Work

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A Jewish Publisher and a University Press Make Their Marriage Work

Source: Publishers Weekly, 12-19-12

Few Jews know it, but the Torah translation they crack open after they slide into the pews of their synagogue or temple was published by the nation’s oldest nonprofit Jewish press: the Jewish Publication Society (JPS).Neither do they know that JPS nearly shuttered last year, but has found new life through a collaborative relationship with the University of Nebraska Press.

That partnership has allowed JPS to continue its mission of delivering classical Jewish texts into the hands of scholars, students, and ordinary synagogue-goers…..READ MORE

JBuzz News December 18, 2012: Dead Sea Scrolls available in online library

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Dead Sea Scrolls available in online library

Source: JTA, 12-18-12

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available online….READ MORE

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

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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

JBuzz News September 25, 2012: Devin Naar: Scholar with New Jersey roots creates digital Ladino library

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Scholar with NJ roots creates digital Ladino library

Source: New Jersey Jewish News, 9-25-12

Devin Naar, assistant professor of history and Jewish studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, surrounded by boxes of source materials for his Sephardic Treasures Project….READ MORE

JBuzz News September 19, 2012: Bernard Lewis Celebration

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Bernard Lewis Celebration

Source: The Jewish Week, 9-19-12

Even though he’s the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton, Lewis donated his magnificent 18,000-volume library to Tel Aviv University….READ MORE

JBuzz News July 17, 2012: Iraq Rejects Offer for Return of Half of Jewish Archives

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Iraq rejects offer for half of Jewish Archives

Source: JTA, 7-17-12

Iraq has rejected a U.S. offer to receive half of the country’s Jewish Archives, which were removed from Iraq in 2003 following the U.S. launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom….READ MORE

JBuzz News July 15, 2012: Devin Naar: Rushing to Preserve Ladino Legacies with First Digitized Library

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Rushing to preserve Ladino legacies

Source: JTA, 7-15, 12

Devin Naar, a University of Washington assistant professor in Jewish studies, is creating the first digitized library of Ladino source materials….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 18, 2012: Historians race clock to collect Holocaust survivor stories

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Historians race clock to collect Holocaust survivor stories

Source: USA Today, 4-18-12

The annual remembrance was observed in Poland and other nations as well, and it took on special meaning this year to historians who are trying urgently to collect the remaining testimonies of eyewitnesses as their numbers dwindle.

One survivor dies in Israel every hour, according to the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, a non-profit group based in Tel Aviv that helps care for needy survivors. Today, there are 198,000 survivors in Israel; 88% are 75 or older.

Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial contains the largest archive in the world of historic material related to the Holocaust — or Shoah, as it is known in Hebrew — and it has been intensifying its campaign to record the accounts of survivors. Teams of historians have been dispatched to interview elderly survivors in their homes and collect artifacts.

“We are really racing against the clock to find every survivor and get their stories told before they die,” said Cynthia Wroclawski, manager of the Shoah Names Recovery Project.

Since its establishment in 1953, Yad Vashem, an Israeli governmental authority, has collected 400,000 photographs, recorded roughly 110,000 victims’ video testimonies and amassed 138 million pages of documents on the Nazis’ genocide of Jews in Europe. It was after the Holocaust that the United Nations approved in 1947 what many Jews had sought for decades: a permanent homeland in what is now modern Israel….READ MORE

JBuzz News April 2, 2012: Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life Merger with UC Berkeley Has Its Costs

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Magnes Merger Has Its Costs

Source: NY Jewish Week, 4-2-12

The Magnes Collection, founded 50 years ago, has the largest 
collection of archives of Jews in the American West.

The Magnes Collection, founded 50 years ago, has the largest collection of archives of Jews in the American West.

Partnership with UC-Berkeley seen mostly as a boon but questions linger about prized collection’s independence.

The new home of the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life, a Bay Area institution renowned for its archives of material relating to Jews in the American West, displays all the museum’s ambition.

Prominently situated just off the main campus of UC-Berkeley, with which it merged in 2010, it has all the hallmarks of a cutting-edge building: sleek wooden displays made from local re-salvaged elm; floor-to-ceiling glass walls allowing glimpses into the museum’s vast collection of Judaica, the third largest in North America; and a spacious hall for lectures and functions, as well dance, theater and art.

“In the museum model, this accessibility was much harder to achieve,” said Alla Efimova, the Magnes’ director, referring to the collection’s past focus on being more of an art museum than a research and educational facility, as it now primarily sees itself. “The new design was about making the collection accessible and encouraging work with the collection,” she said.

Few doubt that the Magnes’ merger and new home will vastly increase its use, but museum watchers agree that the move comes with some significant costs. Already, Berkeley classes for Jewish studies courses are held weekly in its building. Scholars like Jeffrey Shandler, a professor at Rutgers, are planning not only to use the Magnes’ enormous archives for research, but also to create innovate exhibits based on them.

Not long ago, Shandler began talking with the Magnes’ chief curator, Francesco Spagnolo, about using the archives for a project — likely a book or article — on the Jewish fascination with list making. “He said, ‘This would make a great exhibit,’” Shandler recounted. Now, with the Magnes’ new home having a centrally located gallery, that exhibit is underway, set to open some time later this year.

The new building has been a boon for artists like Emmanuel Witzhum, an Israeli artist-in-residence at Berkeley. He had no plans for an exhibit at the Magnes when he applied to Berkeley, but the museum approached him about exhibiting work. “It was perfect,” he said, “They immediately got the idea.”

Founded 50 years ago by the Bronx-born Jewish educator, Seymour Fromer, the Magnes’ ambitions always exceeded the realities of being a small Jewish museum. Over the years, Fromer and his wife, Rebecca Camhi Fromer, amassed not only the largest archive of Jewish American Western history, but also a treasure trove of exotic Judaica.

Some of the highlights are on view at the Magnes’ inaugural exhibit, titled “The Magnes Effect: Five Decades of Collection.” There is a 19th-century purple velvet wedding dress from Rhodes; a sword given by the Ottoman rulers of Palestine to the Jewish developer, who, in 1892, financed the road connecting Jaffa to Jerusalem; even a century-old ketubah from the Jewish community in Kochi, India.

All these holdings were hard to display in its former home, a cramped residential house in Berkeley, where the museum had been since 1966. “Even Google maps had a hard time giving directions on how to get there,” said Spagnolo, the Magnes’ chief curator.

The Magnes’ new building, along with its merger with Berkeley, has been widely praised by scholars, fundraisers and museum directors alike. As an independent institution until its merger in 2010, the Magnes had limited staff and hours, and found it difficult to preserve and organize its archives. Now that the heart of its collection — the documents of the Jewish American West — sit in the Bancroft Library on campus, accessing them will be considerably easier for scholars.

Moreover, the renovated new building — at 25,000 square feet, roughly three times the size of the collection’s former home — enables it to house 80 percent of its exotic collection of Judaica in-house, not, as it had in the past, in an off-site storage facility. By taking over administrative costs, Berkeley has also cut the Magnes’ annual operating budget in half. Instead of roughly $2 million a year to operate, it will now cost just under $1 million.

But the changes come at a price. Merging the Magnes with a much larger, and secular, institution like Berkeley was never part of Fromer’s vision. He died in 2009, before the decision was made. And the merger only highlights the mishaps and difficult choices the Magnes has had to make simply in order to survive.

“In an ideal situation, it could have remained independent,” said Fred Rosenbaum, another leading scholar of the Jewish American and the West. While acknowledging the ultimate benefits of the merger, he couldn’t help but lament the decision.

“Just a minor caveat,” he said: “There was something wonderful about the old Magnes. There was a kind of feeling in the air of being a part of something special. Now it will be highly efficient, but it won’t have the warmth, the intangible, of being a highly creative independent Jewish institution.”

Perhaps the most important sacrifice Magnes made was the relinquishment of the central item that made it famous in the first place: its collection of Jewish archives of the West. The include the papers of the Haas family, an original owner of Levi Strauss and Company, and many founders of the Bay Area’s Jewish community. All of those documents have been moved to the Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, itself a renowned institution with one of the largest collections of materials relating to the American West.

Many scholars of Jewish history think this is good for Jewish scholarship.

“I think it’s great — it’s better than good,” said Marc Dollinger, chair of the Jewish studies department at San Francisco State University and a leading scholar of Jews in the American West. “It’s better to house [the Jewish West documents] at a research library; it’s more accessible to a wider audience.”

But few deny that the merger was one made out of dire need. A series of inopportune choices, including a hasty merger with the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco in 2002 (that ended a year later), and the purchase of two new buildings — one just before the dot-com crash in 2000, another before the 2008 recession — left the Magnes badly damaged….READ MORE

JBuzz News March 1, 2012: Lila Corwin Berman: Collaboration enriches professor’s exploration of the American Jewish experience at Temple’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History

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Collaboration enriches professor’s exploration of the American Jewish experience

Lila Corwin Berman, shown at the 227-year-old Congregation Rodeph Shalom on North Broad Street, examines the American Jewish experience from a historical perspective, bridging religion, politics and questions about identity.

Lila Corwin Berman always has her eyes on bridges, both constructing and deconstructing them. But she’s not an engineer — she’s an historian.

As the new director of Temple’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, Berman explores the bridges between academics and practitioners, the past and present, history and politics, religion and identity, and the city and suburbs.

“At the center, we strive to make academic work meaningful by not only serving the scholarly community but also engaging with the public,” said Berman.

Founded in 1990, the Feinstein Center brings together scholars and lay people interested in the American Jewish experience. To that end, the center collaborates regularly with external institutions, such as the Gershman Y and the National Museum of Jewish American History. It also sponsors conferences, fellowships and public events all devoted to new approaches to understanding the many dimensions of Jewish experience in the United States….READ MORE

Arriving at Temple just three years ago from Penn State, Berman spent her first year getting acclimated, but an upcoming symposium titled “The Art of Being Jewish in the City: Aesthetics, Politics and Power” will be the grand finale of a full two years of conferences, events and even a performance focused on Jews and urbanism.

“Temple’s Department of History is an ideal place to locate this type of exploration,” said Berman. “It is full of top-notch urban historians, and a lot of forces in the department intersect around urban questions.”

According to Berman, as Jews were leaving American cities during the post-war period, they were also grappling with being middle class and suburban, and there was a part of them that was staying behind.

“Many of them never left cities in their minds,” she said.

“Through these two-years of programming and upcoming conference, we are asking, ‘How did Jews retain their investment in cities both as part of their identity but also materially, politically and economically?'”

The Art of Being Jewish in the City

How are Jews imagining, funding and creating urban arts and culture for the future?

As the culmination of two years of programming, Temple’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History is hosting “The Art of Being Jewish in the City,” a day-long symposium exploring arts-led urban development and the role that Jews play in envisioning new forms of urban life.

The symposium invites the public to join in conversation with some of today’s most important urban thinkers.

Thursday, March 15, 9 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
The Edward H. Rosen Hillel Center for Jewish Life
1441 Norris St. (at corner of N. 15th St.), Philadelphia

The conference is free, but registration is required. Visit www.temple.edu/feinsteinctr/symposium, email feinsteincenter@temple.edu or call 215-204-9553.