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Judaica Speaks With An Accent

Simona Di Nepi is the first full-time curator of Judaica at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Among her acquisitions are a “subversive” Passover Hagaddah and feminist Jewish ritual objects including a decorative arm bracelet that evokes tefillin.

“To me this is underrepresented Jewish work,” she said. “What we don’t have yet is queer
[Judaica]—that’s the next step.”

Currently, Judaic art is displayed in nine galleries across different periods and cultures. “The whole rationale is to integrate it throughout the galleries,” said Di Nepi. “The objects tell the world that Jewish art speaks the language of where it comes from, very much like Jews. I’m an Italian Jew and I speak Hebrew with an Italian accent. The same thing happens with objects. Objects made in a certain place speak Judaica with the accent of that place.”

LINDA MATCHAN, from “A case of ‘museum-going while Black’ tests the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ new director,” The Forward, December, 2020.