#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).

let my people go

let my peo­ple go

i am my broth­er’s keep­er

Freedom for Soviet Jewry СБОВДА

free­dom for sovi­et jew­ry СБОВДА

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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