Magnes co-founder, Seymour Fromer, explains how the Judah L. Magnes Museum sent volunteers to North Africa and India to collect threatened Jewish material culture.
During the political upheavals of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jews fled their homes and communities in and around India, North Africa, and the former Ottoman Empire. As much of this material culture was being actively destroyed, artifacts from these communities were at risk of vanishing altogether. In response, Magnes co-founders Rebecca and Seymour Fromer, curator Ruth Eis, and volunteer Rabbi Bernard Kimmel traveled to these areas, sometimes at great personal risk, to collect and preserve these materials for future generations. These unique objects were researched as part of the museum's multi-year Collection Access Project, which will enable the museum to dramatically improve the care, interpretation, and exhibition of the permanent collection.
This video was filmed as part of the Museum Loan Network grant Collecting Stories: Connecting Objects and the exhibition Journeys East, Patterns of Collecting.
Alla Efimova, Magnes Chief Curator, interviewed Rebecca and Seymour Fromer and Ruth Eis on April 20, 2006 at the home of Ruth Eis in Oakland, CA. Filming by Perian Sully and editing by Casondra Sobieralski.