Images of a gate, hamsa almlet, rug, Torah pointer, manuscript, and vase with title text


Generating new knowledge and understanding of Jewish cultures

May 20, 2024

I can hardly believe another academic year has come to a close! This year the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life enjoyed many highlights, including opening Cities and Wars: Roman Vishniac in Berlin and Jerusalem 1947/1967, which featured dozens of the photographer’s rarely seen images; creating a new, three-year strategic plan to guide our work; and growing our staff to enable us to process the Roman Vishniac Archive and expand access to the museum and its collections. 

While we have much to celebrate, it has been a challenging year as we cope with the Hamas attacks of October 7 and the ongoing war in Gaza, as well as with rising antisemitism and safety concerns locally and across the United States. 

As a museum and research center at UC Berkeley dedicated to generating new knowledge and understanding of Jewish cultures, the Magnes has an important role to play in undermining antisemitism. Bigotry relies on oversimplified stereotypes and flattened, distorted narratives of the past and present. The Magnes offers an antidote by sharing complex stories through exhibitions and public programs, providing students with opportunities for hands-on learning about Jewish life around the world, and working with campus and community partners who approach Jewish culture and history from diverse perspectives. 

With your support, the Magnes helps create a community that seeks common ground while honoring cultural differences. I hope you will make a gift to the Magnes today.

As I write to you, the Magnes staff is preparing the museum’s next exhibition and its associated programming. In Plain Sight: Jewish Arts and Lives in the Muslim World—co-curated by Magnes Curator Dr. Francesco Spagnolo and scholar of Islamic art Dr. Qamar Adamjee, provenance researcher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—will showcase approximately 60 artworks and objects from the Magnes’s permanent collection that challenge simplistic historical dualities and provide evidence of intentional creative engagement among Muslim and Jewish artists and craftspeople. I invite you to join us on September 5  to celebrate the opening of In Plain Sight

The Magnes strives to be a vibrant gathering space where members of the Jewish community feel a sense of belonging and visitors of all backgrounds feel welcome, engaged, and valued. If you share my conviction that the Magnes and its work are more crucial than ever, please support the Magnes with a gift to fulfill our shared vision. Your generosity will play a powerful role in sustaining and growing an anchor of the UC Berkeley and Bay Area Jewish communities

With gratitude,

Hannah E. Weisman
Executive Director

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