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Seymour Fromer, Magnes Museum founder, dies at 87

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Seymour Fromer, founder of the Magnes Museum in California, has died.

Fromer, who also served as the museum’s director until his retirement,  died Oct. 25 at his home in Berkeley; he was 87.

The Magnes Museum holds one of the largest collections of Judaica in North America, including documents tracing the history of Jews in the American West.  The museum opened in 1962 and houses over 10,000 artifacts from around the world, according to The New York Times.

Fromer and his wife Rebecca started the museum in response to what they saw as California’s lack of knowledge of its Jewish heritage. The museum began with a display case of Jewish objects in the Oakland Museum, and grew to become the country’s third-largest Jewish museum.

“Many Jews came out here during the Gold Rush period in the 1840s and ’50s, and some of them became among the most prominent families in the Bay Area,” Robert Alter, a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, said last week. “Until Seymour transformed the museum into a major institution with a focus on Jewish culture in this part of the country, most people were unaware of the Jewish contribution.”

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