The Elizabeth S. and Alvin I. Fine Museum
Visiting the Museum
History of the Fine Museum
Congregation Emanu-El Archives
The Fine Museum serves as a venue for a popular series of changing exhibitions on a broad range of themes. Recent shows have focused on Jewish-American identity, the contemporary experience of Jewish holidays and rituals, and the variety of religious practices in Israel.
Over the years the Museum has established a reputation for featuring works by internationally renowned Jewish artists such as Marc Chagall, Camille Pissarro, Peter Krasnow, Max Pollak, and Jacques Schnier. In addition, the Fine Museum has been a leader in recognizing emerging Jewish talent, presenting the West Coast premieres for artists Ori Sherman, David Moss, and Shalom of Safed.
Congregational history and Jewish art also intersect in many of the Fine Museum's exhibits, especially those highlighting the contributions of artists with personal ties to the Temple. Among the well-known artists affiliated with Temple Emanu-El were illustrator Ernest Peixotto (whose father was president of the Congregation from 1896 – 1905) and painter Joseph Greenbaum (whose uncle, Werner Phillips, was president from 1905 – 1906).
Whether displaying groundbreaking travelling exhibitions or items from the permanent collection, the Fine Museum maintains its commitment to making Jewish art and history accessible to a diverse audience.
A Line Can Lead Anywhere: Works By Helen Breger & Esther Hamerman
October 4, 2013 - January 26, 2014
Left: San Francisco with Temple Emanu-El; oil on canvas by Esther Hamerman
Right: Spirit Dancer I; Monotype by Helen Breger
Helen Breger, born in Vienna in 1918 and a former Berkeley resident, enjoyed an acclaimed artistic career spanning more than half a century. She received her MFA from the California College of Arts in 1970, where she served as a tenured professor before retiring in 1987. Breger’s primary concentrations were drawing, graphics, fine art prints, various aspects of design and, in more recent years, sculpture: “Art has played a very big role in my life. It always helped me emotionally, if not financially. In the distant past, the Holocaust overwhelmed me and my family. … The practice of drawing to feed my soul, and also be paid for it, became firmly established. … It proved to me that drawing was not only a skill I had but a necessary connection to all that touched my life.”
Esther Hamerman (1886–1977), Helen Breger’s mother, was born in Poland and settled with her family in Vienna before fleeing Nazi persecution in 1938. The family spent the war years in a Trinidadian internment camp and, in 1944, emigrated to New York. It wasn’t until she was sixty years old that Hamerman, a self-taught artist, began creating the marvelously animated “memory paintings” which were to bring her immediate and unexpected acclaim as the “new Grandma Moses.” Her remarkable canvases interweave recollections of her life’s experiences into brightly colored evocations of place and remembrance.
The Museum display cases are located in readily accessible public areas of the Temple. On weekdays the galleries are always available to members and usually available to visitors. To make a specific appointment , call (415) 751-2535. On weekends, when Temple offices are closed, the galleries remain open to those attending religious services or participating in religious education classes.
Staff tours of the Temple are offered weekdays depending on staff availability.
For large groups, please call the Temple at (415) 751-2535 for a reservation.