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Global India: Kerala, Israel, Berkeley unveils the extensive holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and

Life that document the history of the Jewish community in Kerala, South India, one of the oldest in the world. The exhibition includes more than one hundred individual items, many of which have not been exhibited or catalogued until now. Thanks to a dynamic collecting campaign in the 1960s and 70s, The Magnes has become one of the worlds most extensive repositories of materials about the Jews of Southern India, taking on an important role in the preservation of their culture alongside the historic Jewish sites in Kerala, as well as national and private collections in Israel, where most of the Kerala Jews settled after the founding of the State in 1948. The complete collection includes hundreds of ritual objects, textiles, photographs, archival records, Hebrew books, liturgical texts, illustrated ketubbot (Jewish marriage contracts) and amulets in Hebrew, Aramaic, Malayalam, JudeoSpanish, and English. These materials constitute an invaluable source of information on the Kerala Jewish community and its deep connections with Indias society and cultures while also reflecting the global Jewish Diaspora across India, the Middle East, and Europe. This exhibition is the culmination of years of curatorial work devoted to assessing and documenting the holdings of The Magnes in collaboration with experts in Israel and the US. It also inaugurates a new season of research engagement with the scholarly community at UC Berkeley and beyond, representing an important intersection of Jewish and Asian Studies.
Francesco Spagnolo, Curator

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