On left: Ellen Frank's The Book of Judith - a bluish white bird silhouette on gold and dark blue. On right: text "Building people together through Jewish history and culture" with Magnes logo on dark blue background


Illuminating the diversity of Jewish life around the world

December 3, 2023

Image: Judith Bejeweled (The Victory Page, detail) by Ellen Frank. 2009-2013. Gift of Stephen Dickman.

In this impossibly difficult time, darkness can feel pervasive. And yet, every day I see rays of light in the students and visitors who find meaning and connection in The Magnes’s collections and with each other. 

This fall, more than 200 undergraduate students visited The Magnes in support of their coursework. Curator Francesco Spagnolo and Collections Registrar Julie Franklin engaged them with art, artifacts, and text from Jewish communities around the world to spark deeper learning in subjects as varied as contemporary Judaism in Israel, modern German history, the Italian Renaissance, museum studies, and English literature. 

In October, a new program, “Teens Take The Magnes,” brought together teens from across the East Bay to explore current exhibitions and discuss their themes with selected campus colleagues. Three young women found inspiration in Roman Vishniac’s portraiture in An Archive of Archives. With their imaginations lit up, they crafted a creative story that posed thoughtful questions about Jewish life in Europe in the 1930s.

Our extended public hours, which now include Thursday evenings and Sundays, have allowed us to welcome more community groups. On a Sunday afternoon in November, members of Temple Sinai’s fine arts affinity group met at The Magnes for a tour. Twentieth-century tzedakah boxes, Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Berlin in 1947, and Moritz Daniel Oppenheim’s 1856 painting of an imagined meeting between Lavater, Lessing, and Mendelssohn kindled robust conversation, personal memories, and appreciation for the work required to care for museum collections.  

These moments of engagement and discovery shed light on the power of The Magnes’s collections to bring people together through Jewish history and culture. 

With your support, The Magnes will continue to shine as a place of research, teaching, learning, and creativity. Please make a gift today to help us establish deeper engagement with our public and campus communities and develop innovative collaborations.

With gratitude,

Hannah E. Weisman
Executive Director

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