Housed in the magnificent Hôtel de Saint Aignan, this museum chronicles the art and history of the Jewish people in France and in Europe. It features a superb collection of objects of both artistic and cultural significance (a splendid Italian Renaissance torah ark, a German gold-and-silver Hanukkah menorah, a 17th-century Dutch illustrated torah scroll, documents from the Dreyfus trial), which is interspersed with texts, drawings, and photos telling the story of the Jews and explaining the basics of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. The final rooms include a collection of works by Jewish artists, including Modigliani, Soutine, Lipchitz, and Chagall. In recent years, this museum has hosted some terrific temporary exhibits on offbeat subjects like the (Jewish) origins of Superman, Radical Jewish Culture, and the Walter Benjamin archives. Be prepared for airportlike security at the entrance.
- Margie Rynn