Aaron J. Feingold Judaica Collection

The Aaron J. Feingold Judaica Collection is a collection of approximately one-hundred postcards primarily portraying Jewish women, children and families dating back to the early Twentieth Century. The geographical origins of the postcards vary extensively, ranging the globe from Lebanon, Greece and Syria, to Palestine and Israel, as well as a select few from the United States. However, a large portion of these postcards feature Jewish women from the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, known as the Maghreb region of Africa. The postcards of these women were part of a larger culture of tourist postcards popular with travelers to the region.

The demographic dispersion of Jews is generally described in three categories: Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrahi. While Ashkenazi Jews make up the majority of world Jewry, the Feingold Postcard Collection focuses mainly on Jewish populations living in North Africa, which consisted of a combination of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. The term Sephardi designates the diaspora of Jewish people from Spain who migrated to Mediterranean regions, such as France and North Africa. Mizrahi Jews, on the other hand, originated in Persia and diverse locales in the Middle East and moved eastward. Mizrahi Jews were often seen as outsiders by both natives and other sects of Jews because they had dark skin, spoke different languages and had different customs.

The postcards seen here are a striking expression of popular stereotyping of African Jewish women through visual and written representation. The postcards often focus on the style and type of dress, as well as on their subjects’ surroundings, with the women often depicted in their home or amongst material possessions. These postcards provide a unique view into history during an era when global encounters and connections were occurring with ever-increasing frequency. Widely distributed, these postcards offered American and European Jews and other tourists an “exotic” peek into cultures they little understood.

All titles in this collection have been transcribed and translated, as the majority of these postcards are in French. Where possible, geographic location has been determined, as well as any thematic or cultural identifiers.

Acknowledgements:

This postcard collection was generously donated by Aaron J. Feingold, Union College Class of 1972.

Digital project direction by Gail Golderman in collaboration with Annette LeClair; research, textual, and metadata support by Lauren Brown '13, 2012 Union College Summer Research Fellow and Matthew Connolly.

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Collection owner: Union College