#blogelul : inventory

keeping track of…

We each need and want to keep track of different things. We all need to track our behavior. Some of us like to know what music we’ve listened to, what concerts we’ve heard. Others pay close attention to the books we’ve read. There are many people who collect various kinds of items. For these people it is important to know what they are, where they are, and, if these people are of a somewhat academic bent, their size, when they were produced, how they were acquired, and more.

Of the 86 posts on this blog since I began in late February 2009, every one of them has dealt with Judaic lapel buttons in one way or another. As is clear from a statement at the bottom of nearly every post, I collect these items.

In a recent attempt to explain the meaning, or value, of my collection I wrote:

Jewish-themed lapel buttons might tell us about American Jews and their interests. Each is a tiny public billboard using imagery from popular culture, worn to call attention to something that concerned the wearer and places it within its own historical moment. Thousands exist. Some were produced by Jewish organizations celebrating anniversaries (one “Celebrating 150 Years Temple Shaaray Tefila [in New York City])”

celebrating 150 years

celebrating 150 years

or indicating attendance at an event (including one worn perhaps by Kaufman Kohler, then president of HUC at the 22nd UAHC convention in 1911)
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

union of american hebrew congregations 22d convention new york january 16-19, 1911

or as an award (using Hebrew text given “for good behavior” by the Hebrew school).
given for good behavior

נתונה מבית הספר בעד הנהגה טובה

Others were made by both Jewish and non-Jewish groups supporting political campaigns (the earliest known dates from the Willkie campaign of 1940)


how many are there, where are they, what does it all mean?

or raise public concerns about current issues (nearly a hundred deal with the struggle to free Soviet Jewry, some of which I’ve already shared here).

A few were made as commercials for products (for example
Bartons candies).
I am a maccabee

i am a maccabee

Yet others are novelty items (numerous buttons produced in Greenwich Village during the ‘60s such as “Dress British; Think Yiddish”, also already shared here).
dress british think yiddish

dress british think yiddish

Each button opens a tiny window to a brief moment of Jewish history in the past 100 years.

And so, at this time of year, I am sorely aware of how much work I need to do in my own personal inventories.
This morning to force myself to pay attention to the matter, I posted the following on Instagram:

need inventory

Over 3000 items; only 1881 in the database. Past Time for #inventory. #blogelul

Over 3000 items; only 1881 in the database. Past Time for #inventory. #blogelul

your lapel buttons

Many people have lapel buttons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jacket you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any laying around that you do not feel emotionally attached to, please let me know. I preserve these for the Jewish people. At some point they will all go to an appropriate museum. You can see all the buttons shared to date.

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