Since most summer camps are currently closed, I thought it might be refreshing to share some of the artifacts in our collection relating to summer experiences of the past.


Laurence Goodstein and friends, Camp Oneida, Pennsylvania ca. 1915 gift of Dr. and Mrs. Laurence M. Lerner

One week after the holiday of Shavuot, we’ll mark the 53rd anniversary of a remarkable day – June 7, 1967 – when Israeli paratroopers entered the Old City of Jerusalem and reached Har Habayit, the Temple Mount, an area that had been off limits to Jewish people since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Despite appeals by Israel to stay out of the Six-Day War, Jordanian forces had attacked Israeli cities, including sites in Jerusalem, leaving Israel no choice but to fight back. I remember that day vividly ...

Here in the U.S., my seventh-grade classmates and I were allowed to bring small radios to class so that we could listen to the news from Israel. We cried through morning prayers. We feared for the safety of Israel's leaders, of family and friends who lived there, and mostly of the brave soldiers. We never dreamed that our prayers would be answered by a seemingly miraculous reunification of Jerusalem. As we listened to the news reports, we looked at each other with an increasing sense of ecstatic but cautious disbelief.

In honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut, take a virtual tour of our exhibiition "From A to Z" with Tablet Magazine's Liel Leibovitz:


Oliver O’Connor Barrett, Homage to the State of Israel, study dated June 8, 1948. Collection of Yeshiva University Museum; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Selig Burrows.

This is the seventh consecutive week we’re unable to welcome visitors in person at Yeshiva University Museum. It’s also marked by two extraordinary days, Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day), which, linked back-to-back, help bring alive to Israelis that the very existence of the state was made possible by those who sacrificed their lives for it.

I am writing this on a Wednesday, and if this were a normal Wednesday, I would be at Yeshiva University Museum (YUM) in the Center for Jewish History, in our basement work room, sewing (by hand). I think back to the 1926 robe de style that I had begun conserving, the binder on exhibition that will need re-rolling, and the everyday maintenance we do for the costumes and textiles in the Museum's collection.


While we prepare for Passover 6 or more feet away from one another, we can longingly appreciate this David Dzienciarski painting of a Market before Passover from Yeshiva University Museum’s collection (gift of the artist’s estate). Created around 1970, the work depicts a crowded street in the Jewish section of Lodz, reimagined from the artist’s childhood. Pre-Passover activities are proceeding apace. Two men shoulder a cask of boiling water on a pole (the water would have been used to kasher dishes and utensils for the holiday); a rag seller offers up new plates in exchange for old clothes; shoppers go this way and that carrying their sacks and baskets; while children, oblivious to the surrounding chaos, roll hoops and play in between the harried adult bodies.

As richly evocative as the scene is, the painting is as far removed from documentary reality as we all currently are from our places of business and communal gathering. Dzienciarski (1912-1980), who miraculously survived World War II – first, as a member of the Polish army and then as a German prisoner – managed to escape eastward through the Russian frontier before making his way in 1948 to Israel, where he settled. This work was painted by the artist among tens of others while living in the new Jewish homeland decades after the leveling of the Lodz Ghetto and the decimation of European Jewry.

The son of a lumber and furniture merchant who traveled between Polish towns and villages by motorbike, Dzienciarski considered his paintings a mixture of observation and imagination:
They are partially a documentary record and partially a personal vision depicting a way of life, which was suddenly erased and which tragically can never again exist. There is something in my paintings to which all can relate, but I believe they will have the greatest impact on the generations of young people who want to know what the Holocaust destroyed.” He viewed them as his life’s most important achievement, serving to make manifest for future generations a culture that no longer existed.

Market before Passover was exhibited among 35 works by the artist in a monographic show called “In My Mind’s Eye: Jewish Life in Lodz, 1920-1939,” presented by Yeshiva University Museum in 1980, around the time of the artist’s death. You get a sense of Dzienciarski’s creative relationship to observed reality from a photograph in YIVO’s collection showing Koshering Dishes for Passover in Lodz around 1920, when the artist lived there as a child (Courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York).

Perhaps we can take inspiration and derive strength from such a monumental and vital act of artistic preservation, re-creation and forward-looking-ness. Market Before Passover provides an imaginative window on another time and place, which is most welcome in the here and now, and could also helpfully remind us to avoid the crowds.

In the summer of 2019 I had the invaluable opportunity to do an internship at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York in fulfillment of requirements for my Masters degree in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice at FIT. Wanting to work with a collection dedicated to the preservation, study and exhibition of a broad spectrum of textile objects of the Jewish heritage, I came to the internship in order to see, touch, explore and contribute to the care of what I felt has yet to be given its fullest due attention in the narrative of world object history.

When we think of Rosh Hashanah

When we think of Rosh Hashanah, many of us think of the sound of the shofar, a literal blast from the remote past of Judaism, a time when musical instruments were in their infancy. It is a primal sound, heard through the centuries, calling the Jewish people.


It is with profound sadness that the staff, board and community of Yeshiva University Museum mourn the death of Dr. Vivian Mann, a teacher, scholar and friend, who brought enlightenment, creativity and deep respect for tradition to the study and appreciation of Jewish art and culture. While we are depleted by the loss of Vivian’s insightful eye, sharp mind and expansive vision of Jewish life and history, we will forever be strengthened and enriched by her research, exhibitions, students, and ideas. We extend our deepest sympathies to the members of Vivian’s devoted family. May they be strengthened by her remarkable legacy and comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May her memory be a blessing. Baruch Dayan Ha’emet.

These little figurines, approximately 5-7 inches high, are a hot topic in biblical archaeology.


Sukkah decoration (details) by Siegmund Forst (1904-2006). Produced by the Spero Foundation. New York, ca. 1965. Collection of Yeshiva University Museum, Gift of Lynn Broide

In an attempt to gain as much experience as possible for a potential career in museology, I, Marc Fishkind, a rising Junior at the Frisch High School, had the privilege of embarking upon a five week “course” at the Yeshivah University Museum in an attempt to know what it’s really like to curate a museum. Under the guidance of Bonni-Dara Michaels I was given many tasks, from the mundane to the unexpected, that truly illustrated how much thought and work goes into every little detail within a museum. With the learning of a new computer program, hours of filing under my belt, and even practicing a mini lecture, I believe I have come out of this experience with a plethora of more knowledge and experience than when I began.

Wandering in our painting storage area this morning, I passed a painting by A. Raymond Katz depicting the production of matzah, and started thinking about the different ways artists have portrayed Passover. I thought you might enjoy it if I shared four examples from our collection that together illustrate Passover in a way you might not have considered before.

The holiday of Purim is represented by an array of objects from Yeshiva University Museum's collection - from rare ceremonial Judaica to popularly themed ephemera. I would like to share several examples with you here today.


Purim Greeting Card Issued by the Jewish Welfare Board Collection of Yeshiva University Museum

This Purim Greeting Card was issued by the Jewish Welfare Board, an offshoot of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, during the first World War. The Young Men’s Hebrew Association was originally formed to provide hospitality centers and raise funds for the 200,000 Jews active in the war. This postcard was reprinted during World War II.

My name is Alyson Katz. I am a student at SUNY University at Buffalo studying Studio Art, Art History, and Anthropology.

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the Yeshiva University Museum. My main job while volunteering was to catalogue part of the museum’s collection of First Day Covers into the database and to do research on how they can be used in the museum. Going into this project I had no idea what a first day cover is, so for those who do not know what it is, it’s an envelope, usually with a picture relating to the stamp, with one or multiple stamps that is postmarked on the same day that the stamp is issued. Usually these are released to commemorate a special occasion, the birthday/death of a prominent figure, or annually for certain holidays. While cataloguing these envelopes I had to do a bit of background information for each in order to know more information about what the stamp was released for and any history behind the event. All of the envelopes I was working with are from Israel released from 1948-1986, so I was able to learn a lot about Israeli history and how they celebrate different holidays just by doing a bit of research about stamps.

This Passover, let’s take a moment to consider a few items from our collection at Yeshiva University Museum relating to a relatively minor player in the Exodus story, who, in recent decades, has been brought a bit more to center stage: Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron.

Hanukkah tops, also called dreidel or sevivon, turn up in a number of different forms and from many countries in Yeshiva University Museum’s collection – including actual tops as well as images of tops in books and cards. Here are just a few examples.

Lead dreidels such as this one were common in America into the 1940s.

In 2013, fiber artist Ina Golub (1938-2015) offered part of her extensive archive of completed commissions (invoices, presentation boards, photographs) to Yeshiva University Museum. Since we had long been familiar with Ina’s wonderful work and already had several of her pieces in our collection, we were delighted to accept these materials. Ina planned to continue working, but she promised to donate materials relating to ongoing and future projects when she retired. Sadly, Ina’s life was cut short by cancer in October 2015. The remaining part of her archives, as well as a select group of her works, recently came to us; and so we are prompted to reflect on Ina’s creative work and rich legacy.

June is a popular month for weddings and what better way to join in the celebrations than to share several wedding garments from our collection with you?

The first pictured garment is known as a bindalli, which means 1,000 branches, named for the decoration consisting of radiating scrolling stems and sprays. An ethnic garment, it was popular with urban women in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century. The style of embroidery – gold-washed metal thread wrapped around pasteboard –p called dival work or kaveséra. The example shown here wsas worn by Buka Yohai for the ceremonial walk to the mikvah before her marriage to Nahman YOhai in Gallipoli in 1910. The dress was worn by her mother, Naomi Ben Exra, and grandmother before her. The central decorative motif is striking: a graceful form evoking a tree of life, with grape clusters and sheaves of wheat, perhas symbolizing fertiflity. The garment has a special undergarments, a chemise, embroidered at the neck and wrist where the decoration would be visible.

Arthur Szyk's 1948 drawing, Baruch Dayan Emeth, is inscribed with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson: "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants. [It is it's natural manure.]" This quote is from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 November, 1787.