The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
Wecome to the Magnes!
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life was established in 2010 following 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 Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West.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 world's preeminent Jewish collections in a university setting, it provides highly innovative and accessible resources to both researchers and visitors.
Join musicologist and klezmer music pioneer, Walter Zev Feldman, for a fascinating talk based on his new book, Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory.
Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory (Oxford University Press 2016) is the first comprehensive study of the musical structure and social history of klezmer music, the music of the Jewish musicians' guild of Eastern Europe. Emerging in 16th-century Prague, the klezmer (Jewish musician) became a central cultural feature of the largest transnational Jewish community of modern times - the Ashkenazim of Eastern Europe. Much of the musical and choreographic history of the Ashkenazim is embedded in the klezmer repertoire, which functioned as a kind of non-verbal communal memory.
Contemporary Israel's model of large-scale heterogeneous Jewish migration followed by complex processes of absorption and integration is not unique in Jewish history. To some extent the long-term experience of Jewish communities in Italy anticipated it and provided some yardsticks for comparisons. Of course the quantitative scale of migrations and population size was different, and while Jews in Italy were a tiny minority of total society, Jews in Israel formed a significant majority of the total population.
Created from the early-modern period and into the present, shiviti manuscripts are found in Hebrew prayer books, ritual textiles, and on the walls of synagogues and homes throughout the Jewish diaspora. Wrestling with ways to externalize the presence of God in Jewish life, these documents center upon the graphic representation of God's ineffable four-letter Hebrew name, the Tetragrammaton, and associate it with words and imageries that evoke mystical powers, protective energy, and angels, as well as key places and characters in Biblical and Jewish history.
The work of Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), a Russian-born photographer, most notable for his documentary photographs of Jewish life in Eastern Europe in the years immediately preceding its destruction, has been celebrated in exhibitions and publications since the 1940s. Following the photographer's death, his daughter, Mara Vishniac Kohn, became the executor of Roman Vishniac’s estate. In 2007, the Roman Vishniac Archive was established at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Its collections comprise over 30,000 objects spanning more than six decades, and include more than 9,000 unprinted negatives (now digitized), recently discovered vintage photographic prints, film footage, and personal correspondence.
A year-long series on Israeli cinema, co-presented by the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies and The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. All programs begin at 6 p.m., include a reception and are free and open to the public.
In the fall, the screenings will be devoted to a retrospective of (1964-2016), an actress famous for her cinematic roles portraying the experience of Mizrachi Jewish women in Israeli society and on the Israeli screen. In the spring, the series will move thematically through key moments in Israeli history, society, and culture to examine the potential of Israeli cinema to tug at the intersections of art and society.