The Global Jewish Diaspora library holdings of The Magnes were created through collecting campaigns in India, North Africa and Central Europe, as well as through donations by Bay Area collectors.
The circa five hundred volumes in this collection include titles published in Hebrew and other languages throughout Europe (Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Russia), North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt), the Middle East (Salonika, Izmir, Palestine and the State of Israel), and North America, between the middle of the 16th century until the early 20th century. These holdings include rare imprints not found in either The Bancroft Library or the UC System, or in some cases in any major library on the West Coast.
Amulet for the protection of pregnant women and newborn children
Collected in India (before 1976)
Hebrew, Aramaic and Judeo-Spanish, Hebrew square script
Ink on vellum, pasted on stitched cardboard
Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase, Bernard Kimmel collection, 68.83 (2007.0.65; A5)
Two illustrated Judeo-Persian manuscripts depicting biblical scenes.
85.46.1 and 85.46.2
Gift of Chimon Mayeri and Family
Über die Haupgrundsätze der schönen Künste un Wissenschaften (On the Main Principles of the Fine Arts and Sciences)
Gift of William P. Wreden
75.2, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
Painted manuscript of the Book of Esther, rolled for use on the holiday of Purim. The Hebrew text, in Ashkenazi squared Hebrew script (without Masoretic punctuation), is set in 15-line sections throughout the manuscript.
The first thirteen sections (until Esther 4:1) are decorated with painted scenes illustrating the story narrated in the text. The remaining sections bear marks made in preparation for further decorations.
The detailed description of Jewish ceremonial customs by Kirchner, a Jewish convert to Christianity, first published in 1717, was re-edited by the Christian Hebraist, Sebastian Jugendres (1685-1765), in 1724.
Shiviti manuscripts, found in Hebrew prayer books, ritual textiles, and on the walls of synagogues and Jewish homes, have been produced since the early-modern period. Wrestling with ways to externalize the presence of God, these documents center upon the graphic representation of God's ineffable four-letter Hebrew name, the Tetragrammaton. The four letters, yud-he-vav-he, serve as a source of inspiration in prayer and daily life.