Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century
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Gouache from Leben? Oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life or Theater? An Operetta), no. 4351 (1941–1943) by Charlotte Salomon
Artist Charlotte Salomon was born to a cultured, upper-middle-class family in Berlin. Despite antisemitic policies that restricted access to art academies and guilds, in 1935 Salomon attended art school in Berlin. The situation in Germany worsened, and in 1939 Salomon’s parents sent her to France, where she lived with her grandparents. During this time, Salomon created an extensive series of paintings and writings, titled Life or Theater? An Operetta, which chronicled the difficult history of her family. Salomon married Alexander Nagler in 1943, and later that year, she and her husband were deported to Auschwitz where both were murdered. Prior to her deportation, Salomon had given her paintings to a French doctor to safeguard throughout the war; her parents later reclaimed them. The paintings are now held at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.
Image courtesy of Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam.
© Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

Welcome to The Posen Library

The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization is a vibrant, growing collection of text and images curated by leading Jewish Studies scholars. It offers unprecedented direct access to excerpts from thousands of primary sources reflecting Jewish creativity, diversity, and culture world-wide, spanning biblical times to the 21st century when complete.

Online now: selections from ca. 2000–332 BCE (Vol 1); 1750–1880 (Vol 6); 1918–1939 (Vol 8); 1939–1973 (Vol 9); and 1973–2005 (Vol 10).

Many of these original sources are works translated into English for the first time.

The sacred and secular are side by side here, for readers, researchers, educators, scholars, students, anyone interested in discovering Jewish history, biography, fiction, religious and political writing, art, cultural artifacts . . .

THE POSEN LIBRARY IS AVAILABLE IN TWO FORMATS:

In print: Ten beautifully illustrated volumes being published by Yale University Press
Online: The Posen Digital Library (PDL), an interactive database, available for free upon registration.

Is The Posen Library for you?
The Posen Library Editor in Chief Deborah Dash Moore chose the music in this video, “I’m Done Dressing Up for You,” written and performed by Alicia Jo Rabins. The piece is about Vashti, the queen of Persia who refuses to appear at the king’s banquet in the Purim story. She is banished, making room for Esther to become queen.

Introducing Posen Library Teaching Clips

JEWISH STUDIES SCHOLARS BRING IMAGES, HISTORY ALIVE IN FREE SHORT VIDEOS

LIVEN UP YOUR DISCUSSIONS

Teaching Clips are 3- to 5-minute videos available free for use with your class, congregation, or discussion group.  Each clip is pulled from a longer event and features an esteemed scholar of Jewish studies speaking to relevant points on one of these topics:

GENDER STUDIESSECULAR JEWSRELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL CULTUREBIBLICAL LITERATUREMODERN JEWISH HISTORYJEWISH VISUAL CULTUREANTISEMITISM, HOLOCAUSTJEWISH LITERATURE

Explore all Posen Library Teaching Clips

Teaching Clips are also an excellent shortcut to learning about the wealth of images and texts available  FREE upon registration on the Posen Digital Library.


Image Credits

1. Gouache from Leben? Oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life or Theater? An Operetta), no. 4351 (1941–1943) by Charlotte Salomon
Artist Charlotte Salomon was born to a cultured, upper-middle-class family in Berlin. Despite antisemitic policies that restricted access to art academies and guilds, in 1935 Salomon attended art school in Berlin. The situation in Germany worsened, and in 1939 Salomon’s parents sent her to France, where she lived with her grandparents. During this time, Salomon created an extensive series of paintings and writings, titled Life or Theater? An Operetta, which chronicled the difficult history of her family. Salomon married Alexander Nagler in 1943, and later that year, she and her husband were deported to Auschwitz where both were murdered. Prior to her deportation, Salomon had given her paintings to a French doctor to safeguard throughout the war; her parents later reclaimed them. The paintings are now held at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.
Image courtesy of Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam. © Charlotte Salomon Foundation.

2. Woman Playing Frame Drum Iron Age II, ninth–eighth century BCE
The drumhead of this Phoenician-style terra-cotta figurine from Shikmona (south of Haifa) is recessed, suggesting that the drum had only a single head. Figurines like this are typically found in Phoenicia and at sites influenced by Phoenician culture. Biblical references to women playing drums while singing and dancing to celebrate a victory, like Miriam and her companions after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the women who greeted Saul after David killed Goliath (Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6), suggest that drum-playing women were common in Israel. The bottom of the figurine is a reconstruction.
The National Maritime Museum, Haifa. © Z. Radovan / Bible Land Pictures.

3. Self-Portrait, (ca. 1720) by Catherine da Costa (1679–1756)
Catherine da Costa was an English miniature painter. She is commonly recognized as the first known female Jewish painter. Likewise, she was the first English-born Jewish artist and the second English-born female artist in recorded history. Da Costa’s father, Dr. Fernando Mendez, who was of Portuguese origin, was physician to Charles II and named his daughter after Queen Catherine. Da Costa studied under the famous drawing master and engraver Bernard Lens III. She painted miniatures of her family and other members of the Jewish community. Among her works is a painting of her father in full eighteenth-century dress and another of her son, Abraham. Da Costa married a wealthy Sephardi merchant, Anthony Moses da Costa.
© Philip Mould Ltd, London / Bridgeman Images.