A Mirror of Jewish Life: A Selection from the Moldovan Family Collection showcases 90 treasures from a collection recognized as one of the most important Judaica collections in the world. This exhibition, on view at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion from March 13 through June 21, features rare works reflecting the broad scope of Judaica collecting: from ritual objects celebrating the Jewish life cycle, embroidered textiles, books, manuscripts and maps, to posters and unusual documents recording Jewish history.
A Mirror of Jewish Life encompasses objects reflecting every aspect of secular and religious Jewish life and experience: from a 15th century "Deed of Loan" of a European Jew to a 1928 Soviet propaganda poster denouncing anti-Semitism; from a 19th century elaborate Galician Hanukkah Menorah to the brass candelabrum of the Moldovans' great-grandmother in Hungary; from the delicate micrography of an 1802 Italian Ketubbah (wedding certificate) to the 17th century Burial Society implements from Bohemia; from 19th century kabbalistic rings and amulets to a 20th century gilt-filigree necklace made by a Jewish artisan in Yemen. These treasures reflect the wide-ranging interests and intellectual and aesthetic spirit underlying the Moldovan Family Collection, assembled by Dr. Alfred Moldovan, with his late wife Jean and their sons Joseph and Micah. The family's continuing interest in the field of Judaica is shared by Joseph's wife, Susan, their two children, Daniel and Jessica, and Micah's wife, Rebecca.
The exhibition highlights Jerusalem as the center of Jewish life and prayers over the ages, and includes one of the finest groups of Holy Land maps and early pilgrimage literature. The lost map of Jerusalem, one of the most important pieces of Judaica in the world, is one of the many gems of the collection. Dr. Moldovan discovered the map, which was drawn in the 16th century by a Franciscan monk and believed to be the first scientific map of Jerusalem. He recounted the story of the map: "The Turks, who reigned in Jerusalem from the Middle Ages on, never gave permission to draw the city, but the monk outsmarted them, and over the course of the years that he lived there, he measured and calculated. When he returned to Rome, he hired a map maker and commissioned the map. For 400 years, the map appeared in books on Jerusalem but no one knew its source. About 20 years ago, a London dealer showed me a large map between the pages of an old book. I fell in love with it right away, bought it and then I uncovered the fact that this was the lost map of Jerusalem."
Dr. Alfred Moldovan was born in New York, the eldest son of a family that had migrated from Hungary. After becoming a doctor, he went to work in East Harlem, where he still works today. A founder of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Dr. Moldovan campaigned for equal rights for blacks in the South in the 1960s, during which time he served as the personal physician to Dr. Martin Luther King.