Announcement: Appointment of First Faculty Director of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

March 18, 2015

We are delighted to announce that GEORGE BRESLAUER has agreed to be recalled to serve as the first UC Berkeley Faculty Director of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. Professor Breslauer, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emeritus, is being recalled to serve as a bridge to lead in the transition of the Downtown Magnes from its current association with the Bancroft Library to become part of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He will not only help The Magnes build an endowment that will ensure its long-term sustainability, but will also help nurture relations between The Magnes and the campus’s extraordinary faculty and students.

The Magnes was established at the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library in 2010; previously, it had been privately run as the Judah L. Magnes Museum on Russell Street in Berkeley.  It now holds one of the most extensive Jewish museum collections in the world in a research university setting. Generous donors made it possible to purchase and manage a building in downtown Berkeley and to transfer a treasure trove of material objects to that building, while most of the book, archival, and documentary collection was transferred to The Bancroft.  The principal focus of both collections is Jews in the Global Diaspora and in the American West. Cal has a history of preeminent scholarship and teaching by an array of brilliant faculty members and graduate students across many departments, and George Breslauer will devote time to facilitating synergies between students and faculty on the one hand, and the Magnes community on the other.

Professor Breslauer retired from the faculty, and from his campus service as Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, on March 31, 2014, after almost 43 years of distinguished research, teaching, and service to UC Berkeley.  He was elected to membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014. As Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Professor Breslauer helped to reshape and build up Jewish studies at UC Berkeley.  He established the Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) and created conditions for synergies among the several non-departmental pillars of Jewish studies: The Center for Jewish Studies; The Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies; The Magnes; and The Library’s Judaica Collection.

“We could not have been more fortunate than to succeed in recalling George Breslauer to help us build upon the changes he initiated,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele.  “We look forward to supporting his efforts to establish institutional and financial foundations for this important campus resource.”


Kenneth Bamberger

Co-Chair, Center for Jewish Studies


Jill Stoner,

Co-Chair, Center for Jewish Studies


Tom Leonard

University Librarian