Global Jewish Diaspora

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.

To go directly to a specific entry, begin typing a name (e.g. "Haas," "Jewish Community Center," or "Emanu-El") in the filter box below. To search for a name or term that may not be included in a collection's title, use the search box at the top of this page, or go to the advanced search page.

On the Main Principles of the Fine Arts and Sciences: Portrait and tribute to Moses Mendelssohn (Germany, 1781-1782)

Über die Haupgrundsätze der schönen Künste un Wissenschaften (On the Main Principles of the Fine Arts and Sciences)
Germany, [1781-82]
Gift of William P. Wreden
75.2, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

Painted Esther Scroll (Northern Italy, 18th century)

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.

Passover Haggadah Collection (הגדה של פסח)

The Haggadah (Heb. הגדה, "narrative;" pl. haggadot) is a Jewish text performed at the Passover Seder, a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Festival of Passover (Heb. פסח). The Seder (Heb. סדר, "order") is one of the core events of Jewish life. In modern times, it is celebrated by families within the Jewish home, or by communities and congregations, inside synagogues, community centers, university campuses, as well as hotels and even cruise ships.

Shiviti Plaques

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.