Joseph B. Horwitz, who spent most of his life in Greater Cleveland, amassed a world-famous collection of Judaic art, much of it housed at the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum in Washington, D.C.
On May 18, it was announced that the art and artifacts donated to this museum by Horwitz and his wife, Olyn – longtime members of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood – will be exhibited in galleries at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Skirball Museum in Cincinnati as part of what will be called “the B’nai B’rith Klutznick Collection.”
The establishment of a new home for this art collection is due to a partnership between Washington-based B’nai B’rith International and HUC-JIR. A select group of Klutznick artifacts will also be loaned to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington to be displayed in its new building, scheduled to open in 2020.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to display a collection that has not been available to the public for some time,” said Abby Schwartz, director of the Skirball Museum. “Working closely with our colleagues in Washington, we hope to serve as a model for how communities can learn from a shared cultural and educational legacy.”
More than 200 pieces of Judaica were donated by Joseph and Olyn Horwitz to the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Museum, said Sharon Bender, vice president of communications for B’nai B’rith International.
“The collection of artifacts generously contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Horwitz over the course of a number of years in the 1970s formed an important part of the overall collection held by the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum,” Bender said in an email.
About 300 gifts from the Horwitz collection were donated to Fairmount Temple. Some of them are on display in the rotunda of its library and in the foyer of the main entrance.
Cantor Sarah Sager, who has served at Fairmount Temple since 1980, said she knew Joseph and Olyn Horwitz and described them as “lovely people.”
“They were active members, very devoted and involved,” she said. “Joe was very gracious, very personable and committed to his congregation. He made it a point to know the clergy and to stay close to all that was going on at the temple.”
Sager said it’s wonderful that HUC-JIR has acquired and will preserve and display the Klutznick collection.
“For an outstanding art collection to be housed at Hebrew Union College is absolutely appropriate,” she said. “I think Hebrew Union College has some of the finest scholars in all areas of Judaic thought probably in the world. There’s a synergy there that’s very exciting.”
Schwartz said HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati campus is “a national institution with global impact in terms of preservation and outreach.”
“We look forward to making this supremely important collection of Judaica accessible to a broad audience through programs, exhibitions and a digital archive,” she said.
Joseph Horwitz was 100 years old when he died in July 2000, and his wife died seven months earlier at 103. They lived in Florida for about the last 30 years of their lives, but returned frequently to Cleveland to visit family and friends, Sager said.
The couple traveled worldwide, collecting Judaica ranging from kiddush cups and wedding rings to ketubas and Torah covers.