Leon Family Gallery: Shana Tova! Rosh Hashanah Greeting Cards from the 1920s–1940s

by | Sep 7, 2018 | What’s Happening

Leon Family Gallery | Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus | September

Shana Tova! Rosh Hashanah Greeting Cards from the 1920s–1940s

Shana Tova greeting cards are a surprisingly ancient tradition—dating back to 14th century Germany and preceding Christmas cards by nearly 500 years. Until the introduction of postal stamps and post cards in the 19th century popularized the custom, they were initially the privilege of the rich.

The 19th century cards were based on staged scenes using live actors and custom set design, and featured verses from Jewish and Yiddish texts. In the U.S., these cards were popular among immigrants from Eastern Europe. In the 1920s and 1930s these cards were frequently used to serve Eretz Israel’s Zionist and philanthropic goals. Later, they celebrated both holy Jewish sites and the new land, especially the building of Tel Aviv.

This unique photo exhibit is on loan from the Bernard H. and Miriam Oster Visual Documentation Center at Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People, in Tel Aviv. Beit Hatfutsot’s capsule exhibit initiative offers Jewish institutions a selection of curated, readymade photo displays with the intention of sharing the museum’s vast collection of more than 400,000 black and white images depicting Jewish history, heritage, and communal life across the globe. This is the Leon Family Gallery’s fourth such exhibit.

The exhibit, spanning several countries and dating back almost 100 years, is courtesy of Hayim Stayer.