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<< Wednesday, January 23, 2013 >>


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Case Study No. 3, Sound Objects

Exhibit - Artifacts | January 23 – June 28, 2013 every day | 11 a.m. |  Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2121 Allston Way)


Bancroft Library


Sound Objects combines the study of Jewish material culture with the emerging field of sound studies, and investigates the role of objects that emit sound during synagogue rituals. The exhibition includes a selection of over sixty objects, books, manuscripts and photographs from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life documenting ritual in the global Diaspora, and integrates on-site display with online resources that comprise images, texts, and the sounds recorded by “playing” several of the ritual objects on view.

Many of the objects used in the course of synagogue rituals generate sound. Some are designed to produce specific sounds, such as the shofar, the horn blown in the synagogue during the month of Elul (preceding the New Year), and on Rosh Ha-shanah and Yom Kippur, or the noisemakers used during the reading of the Book of Esther on Purim. Since the process of Jewish Emancipation in 19th-century Europe, many synagogues have incorporated musical instruments in the ritual, including the organ. But there are many other ritual objects, especially those dedicated to the embellishing, storing, carrying and reading of the Torah scrolls, as well as to the havdalah ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath and holidays, which are often designed to emit sound, even though sound-making is not their primary function.

The collection is open from 11AM to 4PM Tuesday through Friday.


rdickson@berkeley.edu, 510-643-9425