New Online Exhibition: The Jewish Home

July 21, 2020

A new web exhibition focused on the 2019–2020 fellowship theme from the Katz Center fellows and Penn Libraries.

 digital collage of images from HOME Exhibition

The 2019–2020 Katz Center fellows, in partnership with the Penn Libraries, have recently launched their fellowship year web exhibition entitled: "The Jewish Home: Dwelling on the Domestic, the Familial, and the Lived-In."

The exhibition highlights examples of the most formative and intimate of contexts for Jewish life: homes, houses, and households. Drawing from texts in the Penn Libraries’ collections and from around the world, the contributors interpreted Jewish domestic culture, architecture, clothing, landscape, and material evidence through the lenses of archaeological, anthropological, historical, legal, literary, and visual research.

Among the topics explored in the web exhibition are Jewish domestic labor, home and homeland, the cosmopolitan home, ghettoized homes, traumatized homes, refugee homes, Soviet Shtetl homes, symbolic homes, embodied homes, health and hygiene, affordable housing, as well as homelessness within the framework of broad social and political contexts. Also treated are Jewish costume and clothing, Jewish domestic customs, including lighting Sabbath candles and inscribing marriage contracts, as well as the homes and hands through which Jewish books have passed.

Along with the variety of research areas explored, the fellows covered a broad period of time, spanning the ancient Near Eastern archeological sites of home, the ancient rabbinic home as a worksite, and Fatamid Egyptian Jewish home interiors. They also examined early modern Jewish households of masters and enslaved people, modern representations of Jewish notions of home and office in the visual arts, including photography and engraving, and studies that approach the home as part of the built environment and design of local neighborhoods.

This web exhibition is one of dozens available on the Penn Libraries online exhibitions page, and a capstone project for the fellows in the 2019–2020 academic year.