Docent Outreach Program of the Judah L. Magnes Museum (1984-2007)
“Begun in 1984, the Berkeley museum’s volunteer-staffed Docent Outreach Program — dubbed “the museum that comes to you” — currently offers 15 different narrated shows, all but one with slides; each lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.
Among the titles available: When Hatred Reigns: A Chronicle in Art, featuring a history of depicted anti-Semitism; Witnesses to Jewish History: Political and Social Posters, showing historical movements that have shaped Jewish history in Europe, the United States, and Israel; and They Deserve a Medal, showcasing sculptured medals honoring the achievements of outstanding Jewish men and women, such as Emma Lazarus, Henrietta Szold, Louis Brandeis and Isaac Stern.
New shows are added every year, according to Rose Levine, a Castro Valley resident who is the program’s voluntary chair. Against the Evil Eye is the program’s newest. Along with the stories of Lilith and the angels, the narrated slide show describes the important role demons once played in the everyday lives of Jews, and explains such talmudic arcana as the special rulings on the wearing of amulets. For example: An amulet must not be worn in public on the Sabbath until it has warded off evil three times in a row.
The most popular slide show in the outreach program’s catalog is Gold Fever, an account of Jewish life during the Gold Rush. The outreach program volunteers — who research the shows, write the text, assemble photographs, and make the 60 to 65 slides each show uses — are close to completing “Gold Fever: the Sequel,” which will cover the years after the Gold Rush era — roughly 1870 to 1920 — when the Jewish community took root in Northern California. Another show in the works is The Righteous Among the Nations, which focuses on World War II rescuers and resisters.”