I am sad to report the passing of Seymour Fromer, beloved teacher and friend to generations. Seymour will be remembered for his kindness and achievements, especially the founding (with Ruth Camhi Fromer) and development of Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California.
Seymour died in his home in
Colleagues and friends can share their memories of
Seymour knew - and in almost every case helped – most of people active in the Jewish Museum world, including many of the younger generation, some of whom got there start (and their enthusiasm) under his tutelage.
Born and raised in the Bronx,
In the late 1950s, the Fromers came to
Eventually, through years of energetic and creative collecting, the Magnes grew to be the third largest repository of Judaica in the
The story of the founding and early years of the museum is vividly told by Ruth Camhi Fromer in “The Creation of the
Before Seymour’s "retirement" in 1998 (my recollection is he was forced out, in a familiar case of “founding director syndrome”) the Magnes grew to become the third largest Jewish museum in North America, specializing in Judaica from North Africa and India, and in ceremonial art and posters and paintings of Jewish interest.
The Fromers kept expanding the collection by rescuing artifacts from endangered Jewish communities around the world. A planned, expensive - but ultimately failed - merger with the Jewish Museum San Francisco temporarily closed the Magnes.
Especially in the 1970s and 80s,
Seymour Fromer is survived by his wife, Rebecca Camhi Fromer; their daughter, Mira Z. Amiras, Professor of Comparative Religion at
The family requests that any donations in Seymour Fromer’s memory be sent to the Judah L. Magnes Museum,
My comments are adapted from the obituary posted by the Magnes Museum: Magnes Founder,