Judaic Lapel Buttons

I col­lect (Amer­i­can) Juda­ic lapel but­tons.

I have approx­i­mate­ly 3000 unique items. Each one rep­re­sents a dif­fer­ent moment in Amer­i­can Jew­ish life and offers a way to learn about the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence.

polit­i­cal but­tons as his­to­ry

instant history

Jews have pro­duced and dis­trib­uted lapel but­tons (or pins) since the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Some of these were pro­duced to com­mem­o­rate cel­e­bra­tions, oth­ers to make a point at demon­stra­tions. Some were pro­duced for com­mer­cial gain, and oth­ers for a polit­i­cal cam­paign. Their pur­pos­es are legion and diverse. Some are humor­ous, some seri­ous. Each one tells of a moment in the recent Jew­ish expe­ri­ence.

In the Spring of 1979, Present Tense mag­a­zine (pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Con­gress until the ear­ly 1990s) print­ed a brief descrip­tion of my col­lec­tion [Vol 6 #3 pp. 30–31, it was actu­al­ly the cov­er sto­ry]. At the time, the col­lec­tion num­bered only a few hun­dred items.

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 am pre­serv­ing these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um.

things are not always as they seem

Some­times I find a but­ton that looks like it should belong in my col­lec­tion. To be on the “safe side” I’ll buy it… only to learn lat­er that…

Image on century-old lapel button is priest, not rabbi

…sor­ry, link rot…


Rt. Rev. Anton Nier­mann, who served at St. Joseph Parish in Dav­en­port, appears on a 1909 lapel but­ton that Rab­bi Mark Hurvitz of New York bought.

other buttons shared

images of lapel buttons found around the Web

This page was originally Posted 26 March, 2009 (Rosh Ḥosdesh Nisan, 5769)