21 June 2009

San Francisco: Jews of the Fillmore exhibit

The Judah L. Magnes Museum in San Francisco will offer a new exhibit, Jews of the Fillmore, showcasing its vibrant "Harlem of the West" Jewish culture 1906-1945. The exhibit will run from July 7-October 20.

On view in the Koret Heritage Lobby at the Jazz Heritage Center, the exhibit celebrates an era when the Fillmore District was home to San Francisco’s City Hall, the famous Dreamland Rink, the best place to find a loaf of Jewish rye and Sunday jazz concerts at a record shop.

There's a free special event planned for 4-6pm, July 19 to commemorate the exhibit. Berkeley-based composer and guitarist Joh Schott will present his Typical Orchestra in a chamber ensemble edition, premiering a commissioned composition. Register here

The essential aspects of Jewish culture are focused in such areas as temple, education, protest, food, fun and more. There are self-guided tours.

Beth Israel synagogue after the 1906 earthquake

The exhibit is guest-curated by author Fred Rosenbaum, whose forthcoming book - "Cosmopolitans: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area" will be published by UC Press in November 2009.

Museum president, author Frances Dinkelspiel, says the Jewish contribution to San Francisco's development is not well known.

Local Jews mingled with Greek, Mexican, Irish, Italian, Japanese and African-American neighbors, enjoying the cuisine and entertainment offered by them all and actively contributing to one of the most diverse neighborhoods of the city.

“This exhibit shows the Jewish community interacting with all other cultures not in a melting pot but more in the form of a salad bowl, with each group proudly retaining its identity and yet taking part in something bigger than itself,” commented Rosenbaum. “The Fillmore was artistically creative, politically assertive, and keenly Jewish.”

For more information and photographs, click here and here.

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