The Jewish Digital Narratives of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life explore the networks of Jewish life in California and beyond.
The more we look at Jewish history and culture, the more we hear the resonance of the ancient term, haggadah.
Narration is at the heart of the Jewish experience, and the holdings of the Magnes, which span archive, library and museum collections, tell many stories from the four corners of the world. To us, the meaning of a narrative approach to Jewish cultural history lies in the particular, in the intricacies of its many interweaving cultures, but it also represents a paradigm that can often be applied to other cultures and interactions.
The Jewish Digital Narratives make a creative (and at times unintended) use of current technologies and social networking tools to organize, showcase and share what the Magnes has collected in almost half a century. How the objects, texts and documents in our collections reached Northern California is in itself a captivating story, which has only been partially told by the founders of the Magnes.
Digital images generated by the Magnes, or collected through programs like the Memory Lab, are first organized in a narrative form, on the basis of a detailed storyboard. The results are presented on the Magnes website in an interactive learning environment created with the innovative software, MemoryMiner. The narratives are also uploaded to popular networks like Flickr, where users can comment, provide feedback, tag images and circulate information. Research and collection information is made available through links to the Magnes Collections Online, our integrated Archive-Library-Museum (ALM) collections database.
The Jewish Digital Narratives are the result of meticulous research by our curatorial staff, by guest curators and scholars, and by an energetic pool of interns, for whom our collection represents an invaluable training ground.
- Francesco Spagnolo, PhD, Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
Cantor Reuben H. Rinder (1887-1966) was one of the most influential figures in 20th-century Jewish musical culture.
During his 50-year tenure as cantor of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, California, Reuben Rinder commissioned works from world-renown composers, including Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, Paul Ben-Haim and Marc Lavry, and helped launching the career of violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern.
Elizabeth Lilienthal Gerstley's Christmas Parties album contains 201 photographs taken inside the Haas Lilienthal House at 2007 Franklin Street, San Francisco, between 1954 and 1971. These images, all taken by Elizabeth's daughter, Anne Gerstley Pieper, portray members of the Haas, Lilienthal, Bransten and Gerstley families and their guests during their annual Christmas celebrations, and depict their gatherings and the interiors of the Haas Lilienthal House in vivid detail.
Jewish roots in China can be traced from the 9th century when Jewish merchants thought to be from Persia reached China by way of the Silk Road, and settled in Kaifeng. These Jews remained secluded for hundreds of years, eventually integrating into Chinese society.
Founded in 1853, the Sonora Hebrew Cemetery was the first cemetery in the Gold Rush Region. The first burial dates from 1853, and the last was in 1977. On January 13, 1974, it was rededicated as a historic site.
On February 22, 1956, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, was filled by a crowd of opera-goers, rushing to attend the American premiere of Darius Milhaud's opera, David.
Koppel S. Pinson (1904-1961), a professor at Queens College of the City University of New York, was a historian who specialized on the origins of German nationalism. At the end of the Second World War, Professor Pinson joined the U.S. Army, and actively participated in the efforts to help Jewish survivors of the Holocaust living in Displaced Person's camps across Germany, organized by the American Joint Distribution Committee and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).
In 1984, The Magnes acquired a unique portfolio of botanical drawings made in Israel by Shmuel (Samuel) Lerner, a Ukraine-born amateur artist from California. While Lerner’s biography and many details surrounding this work remain obscure, his drawings open today a unique window into the landscape, the history and the languages of Israel immediately after the establishment of the State.
The Development Corporation for Israel (Israel Bonds) was founded in 1951 to raise money from the American public for the fledgling Israeli state, which, at the time, was struggling to build an infrastructure and economy to support its growing population. The first Israel Bonds sales drive was launched in New York by David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister. Ben-Gurion's coast to coast tour of the United States would raise 52.6 million dollars by the end of 1951.