Zooming In

Weekly Curatorial Conversations from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

Each week, curators Francesco Spagnolo and Shir Kochavi present insights and connections emerging from the holdings of UC Berkeley's Magnes Collection, one of the largest Jewish museum collections in the world. Throughout the series, guests will join them to explore Jewish art and life, one object at a time.

Fridays at Noon, August 21-December 18, 2020 (except Sept. 18 & Nov. 27) | A Zoom (free or licensed) account is required to attend these free programs.

This event is organized by the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and presented by UC Berkeley College of Letters & Science, Division of Arts & Humanities as part of the Arts & Ideas Live Online! series.


Francesco Spagnolo is a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music, and digital media. At the University of California, Berkeley, he is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music. Among his publications are Italian Jewish Musical Traditions (Rome-Jerusalem, 2001) and The Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art and Culture (New York, 2014).

 

Shir Gal Kochavi, Assistant Curator at The Magnes, is an art historian with extensive expertise in provenance research and the history of collecting. In 2017, she received her PhD from the University of Leeds, UK after completing a MA in The History of Business of Art and Collecting from the Institut d’Études Superieures des Arts, Paris (2008). Her professional experience includes assistant positions in art and antiques galleries, and leading the provenance research department at the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets in Israel.

 

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 Its remarkably diverse archive, library and museum holdings include art, objects, texts, music, and historical documents about the Jews in the Global Diaspora and the American West.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 both to researchers and to the general public. The holdings of The Magnes continue to grow. Recent acquisition highlights include the Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection, and the gift of the Roman Vishniac Archive.

 


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Shiviti amulet (Morocco, 19th century)
Ink and lacquer on parchment
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
89.0.3

Friday, August 21, 2020 at Noon

Hebrew Amulets

Practical Magic (and Health Insurance) in Early-Modern Times

Register here.

 

 

 


 


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Arthur Szyk (1894-1951)
Do not forgive them, oh Lord, for they do know,
what they do! [after Luke 23:34]

New Canaan, Connecticut, 1949
Taube Family Arthur Szyk Collection, 2017.5.1.214

 Friday, August 28, 2020 at Noon

Arthur Szyk and The Right to America

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ioannes Aloysius Foppa de Rota
Medical diploma of Emmanuel Colli
University of Padua, Italy, 1682
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Weiss
in honor of Mrs. Leones mandelson,
73.8

Friday, September 4, 2020 at Noon

Graduating in Style 

Ethnic Diversity at the University of Padua (Italy, 17th century)

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Marvadia Workshop, Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts
Carpet inscribed in Hebrew after Song of Songs 2:13
Jerusalem, Palestine, early 20th century
Gift of Mary Schussheim, 85.35.51

Friday, September 11, 2020 at Noon

Nature in the Song of Songs

An Early 20th Century Carpet from Jerusalem 

Register here.

 

 

 

  


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Le-shanah tovah. A Happy New Year
[Postcard for the Jewish New Year]

Williamsburg Art Co., New York, printed in Saxony (Germany), n.d.
Yiddish and Hebrew
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley, gift of L. Cluck, 73.43.29

Friday, September 25, 2020 at Noon 

The Social Medium that Once Was

Postcards in the Global Jewish Diaspora

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Sarah Samuels Stein (1870-1953)
Portrait of Theresa Ehrman [Thérèse Jelenko]
Paris, France, 1906
Oil on canvas
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley, WJHC 1977.016

Friday, October 2, 2020 at Noon

From San Francisco to Paris (and Back)

Theresa Ehrman and the Stein Family

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Historian Koppel Pinson on Hitler's Balcony (Berlin, 1946)
"Scrapbook No. 2", Koppel Pinson papers
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley, LIB91-14_19

Friday, October 9, 2020 at Noon

On Hitler's Balcony

Historian Koppel Pinson in Europe (1945-1946)

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Nicki Green
Ritual Buttons
United States, 2018
Ceramic, metallic thread, cotton velvet, metal zipper and card stock
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley, gift of the artist, 2018.12

Friday, October 16, 2020 at Noon

Pushing Buttons, Old and New

Prayers Shawls, Karaite Jews, and Subversive Rituals (with artist Nicki Green)

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Porcelain table service inscribed with the
monogram "NC" [Nissim Camondo]
Paris, France, Julien Fils Aine, 1855
Hard-paste porcelain
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley,
gift of James Katz in Memory of General Hippocratis Papavasiliou
and Mrs. Alexandra Papavasiliou, 99.1

Friday, October 23, 2020

En Route

A Porcelain Set Between Paris, Istanbul and Berkeley

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Torah Ark curtain honoring the women's of 'Etz Chayyim Yeshiva
Jerusalem, Israel, n.d.
Satin, metallic thread, cotton, polychrome thread, damask
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley,
Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase with funds
provided by Elaine and Mort Kofman, 94.57.1 (detail)

Friday, October 30, 2020 at Noon

A Silent Presence

Female representations in synagogue textiles

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Installation image from the Magnes exhibition,
An Archive of Archives: Roman Vishniac's Exhibition History

Friday, November 6, 2020 at Noon

Beyond the Photo Archive

Reconstructing The Concerns of Roman Vishniac (1971) at The Magnes

Register here.

 

 

 

 


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Gabriella Willenz
Leaning Towers (Hanukkah Lamp)
United States, 2019
PLA plastic
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley, gift of the artist, 2019.11.2

Friday, November 13, 2020 at Noon

Old Craft - New Media

Gabriella Willenz's Bezalel-inspired Leaning Towers series

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Lazar Krestin (1868-1938)
[Birth of] Jewish Resistance
Vienna, Austria, 1905
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley,gift of Alan Sternberg, 84.55

Friday, November 20, 2020 at Noon

Jewish Resistance

The many contexts of a 1905 painting by Lazar Krestin

Register here

 

 

 

 

 


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Wimpel (Bider for Torah scrolls made from Circumcision cloth)
for a child named Menachem, son of Matityahu, known as
Emanuel Gans,born on Saturday, the second of Av [5]627
(August 3rd, 1867)

Herlinghausen, Germany, 1867
Pigment and ink on linen
Judah L. Magnes museum purchase,
Siegfried S. Strauss collection, 67.1.21.24

Friday, December 4, 2020 at Noon

Birth Certificates in Cloth

Ritual Textiles for the Jewish Life Cycle

Register here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Hanukkah lamp engraved with the emblem of the Della Torre family
Piedmont, Italy, 18th century
Brass
Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase,
Siegfried S. Strauss collection, 67.1.4.36 a-i

Friday, December 11, 2020 at Noon

Displaying Identity, Protecting Oneself

(What do we learn from) The shape of Hanukkah lamps

Register here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Hannukah lamp depicting the symbol of "Shearith Hapletah",
inscribed for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Wolfratshausen, Bavaria, Germany, 1946-1948
Glazed stoneware
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life,
University of California, Berkeley,
gift of Rabbi Wililam S. Dalin, 79.70.1

Friday, December 18, 2020 at Noon

Hanukkah and Survival

A Workshop for "Displaced Persons" in Germany, 1945

Register here.