These pages document the work and the legacy of the community of scholars, museum professionals, and treasure hunters that over the decades worked at the former Judah L. Magnes Museum, establishing its collection.
Alla Efimova, PhD, is a curator and art historian with a particular interest in the visual culture of modern Jewry. She holds a PhD in Art History/Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester.
Bill Chayes began his career in film production, exhibition design and education by working with classic film documentarians Richard Leacock at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and John Marshall at the Center for Documentary Anthropology in Cambridge, Mass.
Bill began a teaching career at Tufts University and Clark University in Massachusetts that culminated when he became Senior Lecturer in Film Production at San Francisco State University and was awarded the Meritorious Performance and Professional Excellence Award.
Elayne Grossbard received a Master’s degree in Art History and Certificate in Conservation from the N.Y.U. Institute of Fine Arts, as well as and a strong traditional Jewish education while growing up in Brooklyn, NY.
Francesco Spagnolo, a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music and digital media, is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a host for the cultural programs of Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome. At UC Berkeley, he is also an affiliated faculty with the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, and serves on the Digital Humanities Council.
Born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in the 1930's, Ruth Eis (née Levy), was the founding Curator of Judaica at the Judah L. Magnes Museum (1962). She guided the development of the Judaica collection, and established its international reputation with her scholarly publications covering the museum's Hanukkah lamps, Torah binders, and other ritual objects.
Ruth Kelson Rafael was born on October 28, 1929. She received an MLS from University of California, Berkeley, in 1967, and an MA from San Francisco State University in 1952. She became the Archivist of the Western Jewish History Center in 1969. She was also the librarian of Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco, since 1965.