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

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confluence winter 2011

A newsletter of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

A New Year, A New Magnes Dear Friends, As we enter the new year, there is more excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm about the Magnes than ever before—and it’s all because of you. You believed in our mission. You believed in the Magnes’ potential. You believed that the pioneering, independent Jewish museum, tucked away in the Elmwood district of Berkeley, could become a vibrant center for Jewish art, life, culture and history. And now, because of you, here we are on the campus of one of the leading universities in the world, embraced and supported by the best minds in the country, our colleagues at the Bancroft Library and the Jewish Studies faculty. The coming year is going to be one full of magnificent milestones for the Magnes— landmark exhibitions, a new home in downtown Berkeley, partnerships with scholars across the globe. I look forward to sharing these milestones with you and to your continued support of this great institution that we all cherish.

Alla Efimova Jacques and Esther Reutlinger Director

There was a museum named Magnes That decided to seek a new address. It tried out the City, The result wasn’t pretty, But the shidekh (marriage) with Cal is a success. —Ron Hendel, Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies

Breaking Ground on the New Magnes On October 12, 2010, UC Berkeley and the Magnes held a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the start of renovations on the new building at 2121 Allston Way in downtown Berkeley. UC President Mark Yudof, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Magnes friends and members of the broader Jewish community gathered to celebrate the start of a new era for the Magnes.

Friends and supporters celebrate the new Magnes at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The New Magnes Building Not long after the UC/Magnes partnership was announced, we had another cause for celebration here at the Magnes: the groundbreaking ceremony for our new building in downtown Berkeley at 2121 Allston Way. Construction of the building, designed by Peter Pfau of PfauLong Architecture (San Francisco), is well underway. The facility, which will incorporate areas for displaying the permanent collection, for exhibitions and public programs, as well as collection study, seminar and student rooms, is being designed around an innovative principle of open collection storage. The new building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2011. “I think we created a rather elegant solution,” says Magnes Director Alla Efimova. We chatted with Pfau at his San Francisco office about the design for the new Magnes.

“It serves the mind— and the heart.” Architect Peter Pfau on the new Magnes

What are you most excited about with the Magnes project? I think it’s a really vibrant institution and they have a very interesting collection, so the opportunity to make a physical space that makes that Collection accessible is exciting. Can you talk a bit more about accessibility? One of the things that struck me as wonderful in our beginning talks was that the Magnes wanted to make their resources available to everyone, not just Jewish scholars, for instance, because that’s really what the Magnes is about: preserving and celebrating their cultural artifacts and sharing them in an open way that promotes dynamic discourse. Our firm has a keen interest in helping like-minded people make the resources that they cherish accessible to others, and the space we’re designing will do just that. What do you hope visitors will feel when they come to the new Magnes? We’re trying to make it a “living room” for the Magnes community. When you walk in, we want you to feel like you belong. The Magnes isn’t a place to go and look at dusty objects from the past. It’s a place that celebrates the future. Our design will honor both aspects of the Magnes mission.

Notes from an Exhibition (Designer) Oblio Jenkins, PACASSA Studios, Magnes Exhibition Designer We’re a design-build studio with a background rooted in woodworking and architecture. In addition to the aesthetic concerns of the Magnes project, we’re also addressing the logistical and pragmatic constraints of the containment and viewing of the artifacts, from lighting to controlling the air that is inside the display elements. One unique aspect of the Magnes is that they are trying to break the convention of the heavily curated experience. Instead of visitors being “told” what to look at or what everything means, they are left to make their own conclusions and connections. Of course the collection is amazing and we are excited about showcasing it, and it’s wonderful to work with a group of people that cares a great deal about what they are creating, and are also able to have fun during the process.

Celebrating the first Magnes Collections at the Bancroft The first fruits of the new UC-Magnes partnership will be evident to the public with the February, 2011 availability of the initial 150 collections from the Magnes’ Western Jewish Americana archives at the Bancroft Library Reading Room. The Western Americana collection constitutes the largest and most diverse group of research materials within The Bancroft Library. With the addition of the Magnes archives, the history of the American Jewish experience and the history of California and the American West will combine two fields of research under one roof. The merger of the Magnes and Bancroft collections reunites the papers of Jewish families, businesses, and benevolent societies, facilitating research on their impact on the growth of California. Along with manuscripts, the newspaper collection, which includes a rare runs of the Jewish press in San Francisco, and the clipping and obituary files (created and maintained for almost forty years by the staff and volunteers of the Western Jewish History Center of the Judah L. Magnes Museum), are unique resources in this library collection. Inaugural exhibition To celebrate the merger of the collections, the Magnes will be hosting an inaugural exhibition, Gained in Translation: Jews, Germany, California circa 1849, March 1, 2011 through July 1, 2011 at the Bancroft Library Gallery. The exhibition will draw on art, artifacts, books, and archival materials from the Magnes Collection, the University of California libraries, and Levi Strauss Archives. It connects the history of the Jews in Germany before 1849 to the establishment of the Jewish community in the San Francisco Bay area after 1849. The focal point of the exhibition is the renowned painting from the Magnes Collection, Lavater and Lessing Visit Moses Mendelssohn, by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1856). This painting follows a watershed period in the history of mid-19th-century German Jews and is often used to illustrate the polemics about

their social and cultural emancipation struggles. Their hopes for emancipation were crashed by the failed revolution of 1848-49, which also spurred emigration to the United States, including to San Francisco, where the Gold Rush provided new opportunities. The rapid integration of the first Jewish families of San Francisco into the social, economic, and political life of Northern California created the fulfillment of their unrealized aspirations in the German homeland. Opening reception and program To complement the inaugural exhibition, an opening reception and public program will be co-organized with the Jewish Studies Program at UC Berkeley—another first—on March 2, 2011. The speakers are John M. Efron,, Koret Professor of Jewish History at UC

Berkeley and Marc Dollinger, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. “We’re very excited about our new relationship with the Magnes,” says Efron. “We can bring our considerable resources—students, faculty and the conservational excellence of the Bancroft library, and they bring to us their deep experience as a vast repository of Jewish culture. It’s an ideal marriage.” For access, hours, and directions to the Western Jewish American collection holdings, see http://bancroft.berkeley. edu/info/.

left: Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, Lavater and Lessing Visit Moses Mendelssohn, 1856 right: Unknown artist, Lilienthal Family Portrait, Germany, ca. 1816

Conversations with the Curator One of the most exciting things about the new partnership with UC is the chance it offers us to work one-on-one with faculty and students.

FS: What Magnes resources have you already looked at: Magnes website ( Our online archiveslibrary-museum database ( Our Flickr photostream (

Francesco Spagnolo, PhD, Curator of Collections, had a “virtual conversation” with two graduate students who’d been immediately interested and engaged by all that the Collection has to offer.

NG: I’ve spent a good deal of time on both and They’re both very nicely designed, and they really helped open up the Collection for me. DV: I’ve mainly used the online archives-library-museum database. It is incredibly accessible and well-organized. FS: What ways do you see that the Magnes Collection could be used by yourself and others? DV: I think it’s an essential tool for researchers who would like to incorporate visual culture into existing research, or to construct original research based on non-textual sources. Personally, I have used paintings relating to the Eastern Hungarian experience ( asp?site=magnes&book=10580 and notebook_fext.asp?site=magnes&book=3380) in a short, predissertation presentation. NG: I think the Collection will be great in terms of complementing text-based research with objects and artifacts. And I think it

Noah Greenfield is a native of Los Angeles pursuing a PhD in Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley. Prior to completing his BA, MA and Rabbinic Ordination at Yeshiva University, he spent three years studying in Yeshiva Har Etzion in Israel. Daniel Viragh is a third-year graduate student looking to write his dissertation on Hungarian Jewish History in the 19th century. He is originally from Budapest, and grew up in Montreal, Canada.

will be really exciting to incorporate it not only into research and writing, but also undergraduate teaching. FS: Can you give an example of how you see the Collection working this way? NG: Sure! The Luzzatto papers! FS: Can you explain why, and how would you use them? NG: Shadal is one my intellectual heroes. I am very eager to have more intimate knowledge of his life and though via the letters in the Collection. How would I use them? I can’t be sure at this time, but I am excited to dream up possibilities over the next few years! FS: You both mention the Collection’s strength in being able to transcend text-based research by offering access to visual and musical holdings, too. How do you think Jewish Studies can benefit from this? DV: So much historical research is text-based, and I think part of the problem stems from the fact that graduate students are not trained in usage of non-textual materials. The Magnes Collection can help alleviate this bias. NG: One of Berkeley’s greatest strengths is its scholars and students who think both culturally and socially. The Magnes will obviously fit right in. opposite PAGE, top :

Abram Krol, Haggadah, France, 1959 Unknown Photographer, Jerusalem, Group on Donkeys, ca.

opposite PAGE, bottom :

1900 above : below :

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream, Iran, 19th century Ketubbah (Marriage Contract), Calcutta, India, 1915

Jewish Life: Around the Campus Berkeley Law has recently launched two new programs funded through a threeyear seed grant from The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation. The Program on Jewish Law builds on the Law School’s historic role in Jewish law scholarship and on the strength of the Jewish law holdings of the Robbins Collection for Religious and Civil Law. The interdisciplinary Berkeley Program on Israeli Law, Economy and Society (ILES) involves faculty in Law, Economics, Business, Political Science, History, Sociology, and Jewish Studies from across the campus to sponsor Israelrelated teaching and research projects.

Student Fellowships Established at the Magnes A big part of the mission of the new Magnes is to enhance the relationship between the Magnes and the student scholars at UC Berkeley. To help us in this goal, we have just established scholarship and fellowship opportunities for both outstanding undergraduate and graduate students pursuing Jewish studies. The Seymour and Rebecca Fromer Scholarship This scholarship will provide support for deserving undergraduate students at UC Berkeley, with a preference for those who are pursuing studies in the fields of Jewish history, culture, art, literature, ethnography, or other subject areas related to the history and culture of the Jewish people. Recipient(s) of the Scholarship will be known as Fromer Scholars at the Magnes and will be given special opportunities for research and study utilizing the Magnes’ resources. The Magnes Fellowship in Jewish Studies

top: Ephraim Moshe Lilien, Torah Scribe, 1900–1925 center: Koppel Pinson in Offenbach Archival Depot, from Scrapbook of Koppel Pinson, Berlin, 1945/46 below: Marchand, Abraham de Cologna (1755–1832), France, nd.

This fellowship will offer support for one academic year to graduate students at UC Berkeley whose research would benefit from the use of source materials in the Magnes Collection. Recipient(s) of the Fellowship, designated as Magnes Fellows, shall be graduate students who demonstrate high academic distinction and are beyond the first year of graduate study.

We get by with (a lot!) of help from our Friends New Friends of the Magnes Group Established The important work we’re doing with the new Magnes is just beginning. And to make sure that we seize this opportunity to bring the Magnes to worldwide prominence, we need your help. That’s why we’ve created a new community of supporters: the Friends of the Magnes. As a Friend, you will receive exclusive privileges, such as advance notice of events, as well as recognition in the Magnes newsletter and on its website. If you choose to support us at higher levels, you can get additional benefits, including: • invitations to the annual Friends of the Magnes appreciation event • special exhibition preview events • luncheons with scholars, artists, and curators • and more We invite you to make a gift to the Magnes and be a part of its legacy and its future. Your generosity today will help the collection thrive as a treasured resource that advances research, scholarship, and innovation for years to come.

Donor Spotlight: Frances Dinkelspiel As former President of the Judah L. Magnes Museum and Member of the Council of the Friends of the Bancroft Library, Frances Dinkelspiel knows the potential of the new Magnes like no one else. “I think we’re just beginning to understand what’s going to emerge from the UC-Magnes partnership,” she says. “There are so many tremendous possibilities for creating a center that brings together dynamic thinkers and incredible historical objects to create a new prism to view the Jewish role in the world.” Dinkelspiel is a fifth-generation Californian who grew up in San Francisco. A graduate of Stanford University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she spent more than 20 years in the newspaper business, working as a general assignment reporter for a broad array of papers, from the Syracuse Newspapers in upstate New York to the San Jose Mercury News in northern California. She has also taught at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1998, Frances took a leave of absence from the Mercury News to focus on writing personal essays. Her journey eventually led to a book about her great-great-grandfather: Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published by St. Martins Press in November 2008. Dinkelspiel’s long association with the Magnes gives her special insight into how powerful the Friends of Magnes community can be in building on the unique history of the Magnes. “I encourage people to join our community because we have a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create this vibrant organization inside a great research institution,” she says.

You can support the Magnes Collection with a tax-deductible gift at the following levels: $18,000 Benefactor, $5,400 Sponsor, $1,800 Patron, $540 Fellow, $180 Friend. Give online at or send a check to: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000.

Sinagoga degli Ebrei Cinesi (Synagogue of the Chinese Hebrews), 1827


opposite: John Bachmann (after 1879 photograph), Fifth Avenue from 42nd Street, Looking North, USA 1904

Magnes Supporters Donors to the Campaign for the Magnes

Charles Michael

Gerald and Miriam Friedkin

Felix and Sue Warburg

Joseph and Sherry Felson

Daniel and Nancy Katz

Frances Dinkelspiel

Alice Kessler

Bernice Greene

Rick and Claudia Felson

Ralph and Eileen Battat

Adele Hayutin

Elliott and Suzanne Felson

Clarence and Joan Coleman

Vera Zatkin

Leo and Florence Helzel

Anita and Marc Abramowitz

Jackie and Bruce Horwitz

Mathilde Albers

Joseph and Eda Pell

Frederick Weiss

Sanford and Jean Colen

Barry and Marjorie Traub

Linda and Michael Baker

Donald and Carole Chaiken

Janet Traub

William and Frances Green

Lorry Lokey Bernard and Barbro Osher Irv and Varda Rabin Albert Schultz

Ruthellen Toole

Amnon and Katie Rodan

Steven and Victoria Zatkin Norman Coliver

Clarence and Joan Coleman

Jay and Judith Espovich

William and Susan Epstein Edwin and Sandra Epstein Marvin and Suzy Locke Cohen Steven Hallert and Phyllis Harford

Foundations Magnes Museum Foundation Hellman Family Foundation Koret Foundation Taube Philanthropies Walter and Elise Haas Fund Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund

Susan and William Epstein Philanthropic Fund Kofman Family Philanthropic Fund Sinai Memorial Chapel, Chevra Kadisha Helen Diller Family Foundation The San Francisco Foundation Jim Joseph Foundation

Additional support provided by the Friends of the Magnes Annual Fund Donors

First Board Meeting of the Magnes Museum Foundation, July 2010