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Jewish Heritage Month: Vintage Fashion Posters

Wendy Westgate, Librarian, Exploration & Creativity Department,
Jewish heritage posters with women in traditional dress
Collection of posters depicting Jewish dress from around the world.

May is Jewish Heritage Month, which recognizes the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. In 2006, then-president George W. Bush proclaimed May nationally as Jewish American Heritage Month and since 2016, Los Angeles has celebrated the over 150 years of Jewish cultural heritage in our city. At the 2018 City Hall celebration commemorating this heritage month, Los Angeles's first elected Jewish mayor, Eric Garcetti, noted that Los Angeles is home to one of the most diverse Jewish communities anywhere and that Jewish Heritage Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the cultural, political, economic, and social contributions of our Jewish community, which in 2018 numbered 617,480 or 4.6% of the city’s population, making it the second largest Jewish community outside of Israel (after New York City).

Starting May 1, library patrons can experience a unique poster exhibit portraying vintage Jewish fashions from around the world. This poster exhibit consisting of 22 evocative images showcases an unexpectedly wide variety of historical forms of dress by Jews around the world. The posters are on loan from the Museum of the Jewish People (Beit Hatfutsot) in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the display was exhibited in our library branches between May 1 and September 11, 2019.

The purpose of the exhibit is to share the museum's vast collection of over 400,000 images depicting Jewish history, heritage, and communal life across the globe. This exhibit offers a unique opportunity to enrich our communal space and knowledge of other cultures. The Bernard H. and Miriam Oster Visual Documentation Center is systematically collecting an unparalleled catalog of photographs and films documenting Jewish life, heritage, and history throughout the centuries. These 20th-century photographs depict traditional costumes and other ensembles from Jewish communities throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Israel, and beyond. Showcased are portrait and group photos, master craftwork including embroidery and jewelry, European Jewish school and sports uniforms, festive dress, early Israeli urban and labor clothing, and a famous Israeli fashion brand.

Further Reading

Los Angeles's Boyle Heights

Wrestling With the Angels: A History of Jewish Los Angeles
Blazer, Phil

From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood

Hollywood's Spies: The Undercover Surveillance of Nazis in Los Angeles
Rosenzweig, Laura B.,

Fairfax: A Home, a Community, a Way of Life
Kronzek, Lynn C.

Recently Discovered Interviews with Descendants of the Early Jewish Pioneers of Los Angeles: Interviews Taken Between 1966 and 1970
Stern, Norton B.

Pioneer Jews of Los Angeles in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology of Articles, Presented Over the Past 38 Years in the Western States Jewish History Journal