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אריך בראואר, אתנוגרף קהילות המזרח

An Inquiring Mind

Erich Brauer, Ethnographer of the Eastern Jews

  • Date iconApril 12 2024
  • Curator: Revital Hovav
  • Designer: Eyal Rozen
  • Design Pavilion

Jewish-German Zionist anthropologist Erich Brauer was passionate about the study of the “living people,” that is – the daily life of Jewish communities. He dedicated most of his life to the realization of this goal. Brauer's endeavors in the land of Israel in the 1920s and 1930s were concentrated mainly in Jerusalem, working with Jewish immigrants from Yemen and Kurdistan. This exhibition seeks to trace the portrait of Brauer as a scholar now gaining renewed attention as a pioneer of ethnographic research in Israel, and presents, for the first time, some of his prolific, yet unpublished output.

Brauer first arrived in Jerusalem in 1925, carrying two “suitcases”: his physical suitcase contained part of his object collection and scientific archive (now preserved in the Israel Museum) and manifested his identity as an immigrant traveling back and forth between Germany and the land of Israel, his life marked by a sense of alienation and impermanence. His other “suitcase” was intellectual – the fruit of his education in German universities in the early twentieth century, which he sought to apply to the diverse population of Eastern Jews living in Jerusalem.

Brauer held a comprehensive view of the “science of Man,” integrating the physical, social, and cultural aspects of human existence. He enlisted all of his many talents to promote his research: as an ethnographer, Brauer collected and documented objects with a skilled and professional eye; as an artistic personality, he drew, painted, and photographed his objects of study. The exhibition goes behind the scenes of Brauer’s work, exploring the instruments he employed for research, his methods of object collection, and the obstacles he encountered. It also sheds light on those who remain unmentioned in his books: the individuals who supplied him with information, the names and faces that constituted the “living people.”


The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual (Hebrew/English) catalogue



Seven-year afikomen amulet case, Amadiya, Kurdistan, first half of the 20th century. Fabric, paper, salt, and metal plate with the Hebrew inscription Kera Satan; coral, amber, blue beads, and buttons threaded on a string, 5x6 cm
Bequest of Erich Brauer, Jerusalem, to the State of Israel; on permanent loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority
From right to left:
Wooden serving spoon (kochiksid do’e [“cow’s head”]), Amadiya, Kurdistan, first half of the 20th century, Wood, L: 23.5 cm, W: 6 cm, 
Dough cutter for preparing matzah, Iran (?), early 20th century, Copper, repoussé?, L: 10 cm, D: 3 cm
Rice spoon (kafgir), Kerman, Iran, early 20th century, Copper
Bequest of Erich Brauer, Jerusalem, to the State of Israel, on permanent loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority
Peddler in the Old City (?), Jerusalem, 1930s
Bequest of Erich Brauer, Jerusalem, to the State of Israel, on permanent loan from the Israel Ethnographic Society


Exhibition made possible by

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, New York
The Beare Foundation, Durban, South Africa


Catalogue made possible by

The Joseph Alexander Foundation, New York