21. June 17 - August 12, 2005
THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS: JUDAIC TREASURES
From the Collections of:
The Leon and Julia Obermayer Collection, The Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, Congregation Rodeph Shalom, The Temple Judea Museum - Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
Through important, respective collections of Judaica and Jewish Art these two Reform congregations demonstrate an appreciation of the visual arts as a vital expression of Jewish identity and belief.
The first major exhibition of Judaica that I curated was in the late 1970s for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Department of Urban Outreach. For that project various ethnic and religious communities in Philadelphia were invited by the museum to present separate Life Cycle exhibitions. As Art Education Consultant of the Division of Community Services of Gratz College I was asked to head the organizing committee for the exhibition of the Jewish community. Leon J. and Julia Obermayer generously agreed to the loan of their private collection for the exhibition.
I had the opportunity to visit the Obermayer apartment on Rittenhouse Square to select objects and to meet Julia Obermayer. The Obermayer home was like a living museum. With obvious pride, the couple lived surrounded by amazing treasures. The impact of those visits has stayed with me until today. My career path was deeply influenced by the experience of working with that collection and being able to present it to the public through an exhibition. No less an influence was that of the Obermayers with their love of Judaica, their personal involvement with their collection, and their pride in their heritage.
I am grateful to Congregation Rodeph Shalom for sharing a part of that collection with us. This exhibition is the first of several joint services and programs scheduled throughout this coming year between Keneseth Israel and Rodeph Shalom, two of Philadelphia’s oldest Jewish congregations. Their historic relationship was marked as long ago as 1925 when Rodeph Shalom was invited to use the facilities of Keneseth Israel while its new building was built.
RITA ROSEN POLEY
Left: TJM - Large Italian Amulet, 18th century
Right: TJM - Torah decorations by Daniel Blumberg, 20th century