Confluence: A Newsletter of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (Fall 2011)

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confluence FALL 2011

A newsletter of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

The Bancroft Library University of California Berkeley

Welcome Dear Friends, Over the past couple of months, we’ve been excited to see some of you pass by the bright new façade of The Magnes building. “Surprising,” “bold,” and “modern” are the most commonly heard remarks on Peter Pfau’s design that transformed a nondescript printing plant at 2121 Allston Way into an eye-popping, burnt orange-and-silver icon.


Prepare to be even more surprised and delighted by what you discover inside when The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life officially reopens to the public at noon on Sunday, January 22, 2012. The glass walls and inventive open storage display give you an intimate and powerful connection to art and artifacts from all over the world. And you’ll be utterly engaged by the experimental energy of the living, pulsing new art. Fifty years after its founding, the pioneering Berkeley museum has been translated into a vibrant teaching and cultural center at UC Berkeley. Thanks to our generous donors and friends, The Magnes is ready for the next fifty years. I look forward to seeing you at the Open House on January 22nd. Come celebrate with good music, good food, and good friends. And then make The Magnes your new home in downtown Berkeley.

Alla Efimova Jacques and Esther Reutlinger Director

Where knowledge inspires

Don’t Miss The Magnes’ Grand Opening The Magnes Open House Sunday, January 22, 12pm-4pm

The big day is here! We’ll start the day with a ribboncutting ceremony to officially welcome the entire Berkeley community to the new Magnes. Exhibiting artists and Magnes staff will be on hand at the street festival-inspired event that will feature continuous musical performances by local bands and university choral and instrumental groups. Local restaurants will be serving up delicious eats and treats.

Images from the grand opening campaign created by The Hive Advertising, San Francisco.

“Our own discovery of this amazing collection inspired the launch campaign, and we’re thrilled to help others discover it, too.” —DeeAnn Budney, the Hive Advertising





Magnes @ 50

The Magnes Effect: Five Decades of Collecting January 22–August 10, 2012


A Local Treasure With Global Significance When the site of the beloved Camp Swig, a Jewish summer camp in Saratoga, CA (1951-2008), was sold, most assumed their memories of it would be relegated to the occasional browse through a dusty photo album or scrapbook. But now, everyone who walks through the doors of the new Magnes will be inspired by the words that Helen Burke, Camp Swig’s artist-in-residence created for the camp’s Holocaust Memorial: “In remembrance is the secret of redemption.” The tile mosaic—along with other permanently installed pieces of the memorial—had been left on the grounds after the sale. But Magnes donor Barry Cohn had a vision. He called the new owners and told them the mosaic had significant meaning to the Jewish community and that it belonged to The Magnes; they agreed. “Camp Swig was just a magical place,” says Cohn. “It was the pinnacle of Jewish life, education, creativity and leadership for thousands of people across the country. I believe that in time, it will become a significant part of our history.” The mosaic will be installed in the new Magnes’ entry way as a permanent anchor to express the museum’s connection with local history.

In its first five decades, The Magnes has made a global impact on Jewish culture through pioneering collecting practices and communal activism. It incubated the first Jewish film festival in the world and inspired the international revival of Klezmer music. It established the model for the study of regional Jewish history in America, explored the visual and material dimensions of Jewish life, and became one of the preeminent Jewish museum collections in a world-class university setting. As it joins UC Berkeley in its jubilee year, The Magnes takes stock of its legacy and continues to be a laboratory for cultural and scholarly innovation. The first exhibition in the Charles Michael Gallery retraces the 50-year history of collecting, highlighting documents and artifacts that represent the milestones of the “Magnes effect.”

Honoring our roots Sunday, February 12, 11am-5pm How We Got Here: Reflecting on the Past 150 Years will highlight the history of the Bay Area Jewish community from the Gold Rush to the present. Presented by Lehrhaus Judaica, the conference is dedicated to the memory of the former Judah L. Magnes Museum’s co-founder, Seymour Fromer (1922-2009). It will include tributes by artists, scholars, filmmakers, and museum curators whom he mentored for nearly half a century. For more information and to register, go to

The Spring/Summer Exhibitions January–August 2012 Dissolving Localities | Berkeley Jerusalem

Gale Antokal: The Spill

January 22-July 3, 2012

January 22-July 3, 2012

Emmanuel Witzthum is a composer, violist, installation artist, and lecturer who most recently served as director of The Lab (Hama’abada) in Jerusalem, a venue for experimental theater, dance, and music. He’s now here in Berkeley as a Resident Fellow at the UC’s Townsend Center for the Humanities for the Spring, 2012 semester.

Gale Antokal’s drawings are made with a mixture of volatile materials, such as chalk, powder, graphite, flour and ash. Using documentary photographs as source, she creates evocative new images that never existed in the originals. “The photos I use are now considered for their degradation and inability to be read. I enhance them making the image even more low contrast. There is a vagueness of vision and clarity. It describes a “failure of sight” on many levels. It also speaks of how the past is obscured.” Antokal’s project for The Magnes is a departure from her usual technique. Starting from drawings in her series, ‘We Are So Lightly Here’ (20032006), she will create a digital animation to be projected on a lobby wall. The drawings of milk pouring down a staircase, originally made with pastel, graphite, ash and flour, will come to life in a narrative sequence.

Dissolving Localities | Berkeley Jerusalem will extend Witzthum’s recent project that was presented in Jerusalem and Paris, in which artists were invited to “perform” the city of Jerusalem as a musical/visual instrument. By interweaving recorded sights and sounds, they created an expanding open-source multimedia montage. During his residency in Berkeley, Witzthum will build an audiovisual dialogue between Jerusalem, his hometown, and Berkeley, in an installation at the Main Gallery of The Magnes. The final result will be presented in a public program at the closing of his residency on March 15. Witzhum’s residency is made possible in collaboration with the Schusterman Family Foundation’s Visiting Artist program.

Case Study No. 1: Shaken, Not Stirred January 22-August 20, 2012 Built by Pacassa Studios, a local woodworking and architecture firm, the display cases at the very center of the new Magnes facility will be used to highlight thematic selections from the permanent collection. Every year the curators of The Magnes will collaborate with faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars in creating Case Studies from the collection, based on innovative research projects. Case Study No. 1: Shaken, Not Stirred presents art and artifacts re-discovered by staff during the move of The Magnes Collection to its new home.

A Berkeley resident, Gale Antokal is a recipient of a Visual Arts Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and is currently a Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at San Jose State University. She recently exhibited her work at Couturier Gallery in Los Angeles and Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco.


Bernard Baruch Zakheim, Mural Master

Born into a Hasidic family in Warsaw, Zakheim studied art in Poland before immigrating to America. After arriving in San Francisco in 1921, he co-founded a left-wing Yiddish school and supported his family as a furniture designer in the city’s Fillmore district. The painter also founded the Artists’ and Writers’ Union. After WWII, Zakheim moved to Sebastopol, California, where lived and worked until his death. Since then, the artist’s estate lay dormant in a warehouse, until 2010, when the work was photographed, catalogued, and partially exhibited through the effort of Lehrhaus Judaica, the former Judah L. Magnes Museum, and the Fillmore Heritage Center with support and encouragement of the Koret Foundation. The exhibition Bernard Zakheim: the Art of Prophetic

Thanks to a grant from the Koret Foundation, The Magnes and the Bancroft Library acquired a group of works by Jewish Bay Area artist, Bernard Baruch Zakheim (1896-1985). A protégé of Diego Rivera, with whom he worked for a short time in Mexico, Zakheim is mostly remembered for frescos he created in the 1930s. These include The Story of California Medicine at UCSF Medical Center, Jewish Wedding at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center and Library at Coit Tower. The new acquisition includes sketches for the frescos and a painting of Rivera working on a mural.

Bernard Baruch Zakheim, Diego Rivera painting a mural with assistants Louis Shanker and Frank Mechau, 1932, Oil on canvas; Frank Mechau in front of a mural sketch for Colorado Springs Post Office., ca. 1934; Louis Schanker in front of his mural for WNYC radio station, New York, ca. 1939; Bernard Zakheim in front of his mural for UCSF Medical School, San Francisco, 1936-37

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Justice brought to light hundreds of paintings, drawings, and watercolors created during his lifetime. The Magnes and The Bancroft are the first public collections to acquire a group of newly discovered works. The painting depicting Diego Rivera and assistants is particularly interesting among these. Diego Rivera is depicted at work, seated with his back to the viewer. Two assistants, Louis Schanker and Frank Mechau, are standing in the center, facing the viewer. Schanker and Mechau are well known American artists and muralists, whose frescos still grace public buildings in New York and Colorado, respectively. The painting is dated 1932, a year all three young artists—Zakheim, Schanker, and Mechau—spent in Paris. Most likely, the scene is fictional as there is no known mural project where the three artists would have worked alongside Rivera. However, the idea of representing mural painting as labor, especially foregrounding the variety of individuals involved in the process, was introduced by Diego Rivera in his famous mural Making a Fresco at the San Francisco Art Institute, completed in the preceding year. As the title indicates, there is a fresco within the fresco showing the building of a modern city, including portraits of many of the individuals who worked directly on the fresco or indirectly as advisors and patrons. Rather than documenting a realistic work-in-progress, Zakheim’s painting may be representing a common vision, an aspiration. Upon returning to the United States in 1932-33, Zakheim, Schanker, and Mechau received important mural commissions and were able to document the reality of standing proudly in front of their own work. —Alla Efimova

Conversations with the Curator The Magnes pioneered interest in the U.S. for the material culture and history of North African Jewry, expanding the “canon” of Jewish culture and highlighting the essential history of the Jews in the lands of Islam over the centuries. Recently, we have added to our holdings from this region with a generous gift from Keren T. Friedman, a scholar, photographer and collector with special knowledge of the Jewish community on the island of Djerba, Tunisia. Friedman’s gift includes jewelry made by Jews still worn on special occasions such as weddings and religious holidays. This new addition to the collection represents our commitment to enhance the offerings of the University of California to the community of scholars by bridging material and literary, Jewish and Islamic cultures. The Curator of The Magnes Collection, Francesco Spagnolo, spoke with Friedman about her special collection. FS: How did you become interested in Djerba? KF: I hadn’t known anything about this group of North African Jews before I inadvertently stumbled across them in 1973 during my days as a traveler exploring Islamic countries. The Jews of Djerba are the last example in all of North Africa of vibrant Jewish village life in a predominantly Islamic environment. I started collecting out of concern that they might soon need to exit Tunisia altogether because of political and economic reasons. It was also a labor of love to document aspects of their unique culture on the island through photography and writing.


FS: What is your favorite item among the ones you are donating? KF: The sparkle of the large pieces and the tinkling sound the jewelry makes as the women walk is most captivating. However, it is the headband with amulets worn by a baby boy on his brit milah that is particularly precious to me. The wearing of the headband, by the way, is a custom shared by both Jews and Muslims. FS: What prompted you to give select items from your collection to The Magnes? KF: When I decided to find a home for part of my collection, I looked for a place that I could trust, and I knew The Magnes was a museum of very high standards. When I met with you, I was so intrigued by your description of how the new Magnes is going to be more than a mere museum, but a place where scholars and students from all over the world could interact with the holdings on site and online. Finally, the fact that The Magnes is now a partner with the University of California made me confident that more people will be able to benefit from what I have learned. I hope that this is just the beginning of our relationship.

Friends of The Magnes For more than half a century, The Magnes has provided access to unique resources that have allowed each generation to find its own story in the rich texts, vibrant images, and unique sounds of Jewish culture. Your generosity today will help the collection thrive as a treasured resource that advances research, scholarship, and innovation for years to come. You will receive exclusive privileges, such as advance notice of events and recognition in The Magnes newsletter and on its website. Additional benefits—including invitations to the annual Friends of The Magnes appreciation event, special exhibition preview events, and luncheons with scholars, artists, and curators— are available at various giving levels. With the opening of the new building, the coming year is going to be momentous for The Magnes. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help The Magnes offer unprecedented access to Jewish history and culture.

We would be honored to have you join us at any level. You can GIVE ONLINE or send your donation to The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, 2121 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94720-6300.

Support The Magnes Collection with a tax-deductible gift at the following levels: Fellows—$100


Director’s Circle—$5,000

› Advanced notice of The Magnes events and news

All of the Scholars benefits, plus:

All of the Collectors benefits, plus:

› Invitations to exhibition openings

› Recognition on the Annual Fund plaque in The Magnes lobby

› Director-led preview of upcoming exhibitions and programs

› A subscription to The Magnes newsletter, Confluence


Partner’s Circle—$10,000

All of the Conservators benefits, plus:

All of the Director’s Circle benefits, plus:

› Private exhibition preview with museum curators

› Intimate dinner with The Magnes’ and the Bancroft Library’s directors

All of the Fellows benefits, plus:


Visionary Circle—$25,000

› Recognition in The Magnes newsletter, Confluence

All of the Curators benefits, plus:

All of the Partner’s Circle benefits, plus:

› Luncheon with a noted scholar, artist, or performer

› Opportunity to host a private event in The Magnes building

› A subscription to the Bancroft Library’s newsletter, Bancroftiana


› Receive a Keepsake, a printed volume of a unique manuscript or a rare document owned by the Bancroft Library

Donor Spotlight: Barry Cohn

Magnes by the Marsh

Though Barry Cohn has only been affiliated with The Magnes since 2007, he has more than made up for lost time with his deep involvement. In fact, if you were to stop by the new building at 2121 Allston Way right now, chances are you’d get to say hello. “I’m there every day checking on the construction and overseeing things to help make sure the community’s needs are met,” he says.

To honor and celebrate joining the vibrant downtown arts scene, The Magnes recently partnered with The Marsh, Berkeley’s premier performance space. Throughout the year, we’ll be working with The Marsh to bring to stage performers and plays relevant to the Jewish experience.

His family’s long history in California—they’ve been in the Bay Area since the 1850s—make Cohn a perfect fit for The Magnes. “Having a museum that tells the history of Jews in the West was appealing to me,” he says. “The museum tells part of my own life story; it was a natural fit.” Cohn, who is a partner in the commercial real estate firm of Cassidy Turley BT Commercial, is also a thirdgeneration UC Berkeley alum, which makes him especially excited about the recent merger. “The inaugural exhibit at the Bancroft library was a momentous event,” he says. “It felt like The Magnes had really arrived and become part of the greater academic community.” He’s equally thrilled about the new building and how it is going to bring the broader Berkeley community upclose-and-personal with The Magnes collections. “The way the space is designed, you can’t help but be engaged with the collections,” he says. “And because The Magnes will be used heavily by the community for events and meetings, people will be exposed to Jewish art and life both through osmosis and also very purposefully.”

The museum tells part of my own life story; it was a natural fit.

It’s the building of connections— past to present, community to community—that makes Cohn proud to be a supporter of The Magnes. “The essence of the museum can be found in inscription on the mosaic from Camp Swig that will be installed in the entry: In remembrance is the secret of redemption,” he says. “That is the value that The Magnes creates for a donor and for the community. I can’t think of anything better to do than be in support of it.”

The first Magnes by the Marsh performance was held in September and featured Yehuda Hyman starring in his own play, The Mad 7. The show is a modern-day riff on The Seven Beggars, a Jewish folktale written more than two centuries ago by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Directed by Mara Isaacs, The Mad 7 tells the epic tale of Elliott Green, a San Francisco office drone turned reluctant hero who embarks on a strange and mystical quest. Through music, dance and uniquely personal storytelling, Hyman offered a hilarious, offbeat and moving story of spiritual awakening and self-discovery. The next performance in the series, Cordelia, Mein Kind, will run February 2-5, 2012. It’s duet for film and live body co-created and performed by Deborah Leiser-Moore. Inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear, the piece combines original interviews between a contemporary Cordelia and her father, a Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivor now in his dotage and living in ‘exile’ in the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh. Magnes by the Marsh is cosponsored by Marianne and Herb Friedman.

Magnes Supporters Campaign for The Magnes Donors

Anita and Marc Abramowitz

Adele Hayutin

Lumina Foundation

Gary and Dana Shapiro

Vera Zatkin

Barry and Marjorie Traub

Lorry Lokey

Joseph and Eda Pell

William and Susan Epstein

Judith and Mark Yudof

Bernard and Barbro Osher

Barry and Debbie Cohn

Edwin and Sandra Epstein

Irv and Varda Rabin

Janet Traub

Reutlinger Foundation

Cher Wang

Marvin Cohen and Suzy Locke Cohen

Albert Schultz

Steven and Victoria Zatkin

Leo and Florence Helzel

Leonard and Roberta Cohn

Mathilde Albers

Norman Coliver

Sanford and Jean Colen

Frances Dinkelspiel

Jewish Community Endowment Fund

Gerald and Miriam Friedkin William and Frances Green

Steven Hallert and Phyllis Harford

Director’s Circle

Marianne Levee Friedman Walter & Elise Haas Fund Dana and Gary Shapiro Janet Traub

Friends of The Magnes Donors


Visionary Circle

Joan and Roger Mann

Jack Petranker

Daniel and Nancy Katz

Donald and Carole Chaiken

The Hellman Family Foundation

Alice Kessler

Toole Family

Koret Foundation

Morton and Amy Friedkin

Marianne and Herb Friedman

Professor Raymond Lifchez

Charles Michael

Ralph and Eileen Battat

Walter and Elise Haas Fund

Clarence and Joan Coleman

Barry and Marjorie Traub

Jackie and Bruce Horwitz

Amnon and Katie Rodan

Frederick Weiss

Joseph and Sherry Felson

Linda and Michael Baker

Rick and Claudia Felson

Felix and Sue Warburg

Elliott and Suzanne Felson

Jay and Judith Espovich

Moses and Susan Libitzky

Bernice Greene

The Magnes Museum Foundation Taube Foundation For Jewish Life and Culture Partners’ Circle

Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties

Jim Joseph Foundation Mary Ann and Bertram Tonkin Curators

Ronald and Sue Bachman Barry and Debra Cohn Frances Dinkelspiel Steven and Pamela Dinkelspiel Marc and Marci Dollinger Delia Ehrlich Rosalie Eisen Frances and William Green

Magnes Staff Alla Efimova Jacques and Esther Reutlinger Director

Francesco Spagnolo Curator of Collections

Eva Gurevich Programs and Events Coordinator Douglas and Lisa Goldman


Colleen and Robert Haas

Terry Alexander

Adele Hayutin

Robert and Evelyn Apte

Deborah and David Kirshman

Robin Berry

Luso-American Education Foundation

Rena Bransten

Lara Michels

Jerome and Gloria Burke


The Somekh Family Foundation

Leonard and Roberta Cohn

Marcia Tanner

Harold and Diana Feiger

Adele Corvin


Paul and Selma Forkash

Neil Gozan and Gale Antokal

Arthur and Miriam Gauss

Richard Berman

Michael Goldstein and Susan Bales

Robert and Eva Bloch

Julie Franklin Exhibitions Coordinator

Paul Hamburg Librarian for the Judaica Collection

Ted Foley Head Preparator

Catherine Hartshorn and Richard Buxbaum

Theodore and Lym Kotzin

William and Susan Epstein

Stephan and Arlene Krieger

Matt Lopez

Michael and Bernardine Fein

Fred Levinson

Assistant Preparator

Theodore and Francis Geballe

Barbara Meislin

Evelyn and Roberto Graetz

June Neuhaus

Aaron and Frances Greenberg

Steven Oliver

Stephen and Maribelle Leavitt

William Ringer

Sinai Memorial Chapel

Dorothy Saxe

Samuel Mesnic and Ilene Weinreb

Douglas and Lisbeth Schwab

Victoria and Steven Zatkin

Mel Wacks

Marion Kramer

Arthur and Elizabeth Stander

Confluence, Fall 2011 Editor: Laura Scholes Designer: Lacey Rainwater

University of California

2121 Allston Way •

Berkeley, CA 94720-6300

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