Judaic Museum is ‘uplifting’ Experience for Home for Aged

“A museum of Judaica is devoted to ideas, to capturing a spirit,” Marvin Schwartz, Curator of Ritual and Ceremonial Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, told an audience at the Judaica Museum today.

The museum, located on the grounds of the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale in the Bronx, celebrated its second anniversary with guest speakers and a premier showing of an 18th century Italian painting of Esther and Ahasheurus.

Schwartz said the museum does “a classic job of illustrating the rituals of life.” This collection focuses on Jewish ceremonial art, reflecting the customs and rituals of European Jewry over the last three centures, he said.

The permanent collection was donated by Ralph and Leuba Blum who had privatedly amassed the objects over the past 30 years. It consists of ceremonial objects such as circumcision sets, Kiddush cups and over 100 Torah pointers from all over Europe. On display for the anniversary are the original Israeli Declaration of Independence and 2500-year old coins from the ancient Kingdom of Judea.

The Hebrew Home for the Aged also houses a $15 million art collection that includes works by Picasso, Chagall, Zuniga and Louise Nevelson and Chaim Gross. “What does art have to do with the Home?” its director, Jacob Reingold asked rhetorically, “The only field where aging is not a (handicap) is art. In fact, the only field where aging is respected is art,” he answered.

In addition, he said in an earlier statement that the Home’s philosophy is to see “the later years of life not simply as a stage for biding time but for living and even growing.” Along these lines, for the 1200 residents of the Home to live with these paintings “is uplifting,” he said. Reingold noted that all the works were donated.

Irving Stolz, president of the Home noted that the museum was open to the general public and that he hoped “our children and grandchildren will be able to learn” about their Jewish heritage.

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