Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress

Event has passed (Mon Nov 12, 2018 - Sun Jan 6, 2019)
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Aug 30, 2018-Jan 6, 2019, 11am-5pm
Religion / Spiritual, Fashion


Aug 30, 2018-Jan 6, 2019, 11am-5pm

Clothing exists to cover our bodies, but it can also uncover latent histories and personal narratives. To what extent does our choice of dress suggest individual taste or reflect influences from our surroundings? The variety of costumes displayed in this exhibition attests to the diversity of Jewish communities across centuries and around the globe. In many cases, the clothes worn by Jews were similar or even identical to those worn by non-Jewish neighbors, although at times special features distinguished them from the dominant culture.

Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress, from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem invites us to consider the history and language of Jewish clothing in all its complexity, from cultural dress codes to modes of self-expression. Through many sartorial symbols and signifiers, these items disclose information about gender, age, geography, background, and custom, while simultaneously leaving some meanings fluid or encoded.

Regardless of origin, each ensemble tells a story-the story of its creator or wearer, of the community to which it belonged, or of its voyage across multiple generations, families, and channels of transit. These garments, dating primarily from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, are drawn from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, the repository of the most comprehensive collection of Jewish costume in the world. Its holdings provide a unique testimony to bygone communities, to forms of dress and craft that no longer exist, and to a sense of beauty that still has the power to enthrall.


  1. Contemporary Jewish Museum 736 Mission St, San Francisco, CA