These pages document the work and the legacy of the community of scholars, museum professionals, and treasure hunters that over the decades worked at the former Judah L. Magnes Museum, establishing its collection.

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.

Francesco Spagnolo

Curator & Associate Adjunct Professor

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 and the Center for Jewish Studies. He is also an affiliated faculty with the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, the Institute of European Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Religious Diversity Cluster of the Haas Institute. Dr. Spagnolo is also a host for the cultural programs of Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome, and a Scholar-in-Residence with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco. Among his publications are Italian Jewish Musical Traditions (Rome-Jerusalem, 2001) and The Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art and Culture (New York, 2014).

Alla Efimova

Chief Curator, Interim Director, The Judah L. Magnes Museum, and Executive Director, The Magnes Collection (2004-2014)

Alla Efimova, PhD, is a curator and art historian with a particular interest in the visual culture of modern Jewry. She holds a PhD in Art History/Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester.

Bill Chayes

Curator of Film, Photography, Digital Art and Music (Judah L. Magnes Museum)

Bill Chayes began his career in film production, exhibition design and education by working with classic film documentarians Richard Leacock at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and John Marshall at the Center for Documentary Anthropology in Cambridge, Mass.

Bill began a teaching career at Tufts University and Clark University in Massachusetts that culminated when he became Senior Lecturer in Film Production at San Francisco State University and was awarded the Meritorious Performance and Professional Excellence Award. 

Elayne Grossbard

Judaica Curator (Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2004-2009)

Elayne Grossbard received a Master’s degree in Art History and Certificate in Conservation from the N.Y.U. Institute of Fine Arts, as well as and a strong traditional Jewish education while growing up in Brooklyn, NY.

Ruth Eis

Judaica Curator (Judah. L. Magnes Museum)

Born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in the 1930's, Ruth Eis (née Levy), was the founding Curator of Judaica at the Judah L. Magnes Museum (1962). She guided the development of the Judaica collection, and established its international reputation with her scholarly publications covering the museum's Hanukkah lamps, Torah binders, and other ritual objects.

Ruth Kelson Rafael

Chief Archivist (Western Jewish History Center)

Ruth Kelson Rafael was born on October 28, 1929. She received an MLS from University of California, Berkeley, in 1967, and an MA from San Francisco State University in 1952. She became the Archivist of the Western Jewish History Center in 1969. She was also the librarian of Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco, since 1965.

Shir Gal Kochavi

Assistant Curator

Shir is an art historian with extensive expertise in provenance research and the history of collecting, regularly working and volunteering as a researcher in art institutions for over a decade. Her professional experience includes assistant positions in contemporary art and antiques galleries in Israel and in the UK, and at Christie's Auction House.