Photo exhibit paints portrait of Being Jewish in Bay Area

What does being Jewish in the Bay Area mean to you?

The Contemporary Jewish Museum asked such a question — and put out a call for answers in the form of photos.

A collage of about 200 of those photos, as well as some locally relevant religious objects, will be on display throughout the summer in an exhibition called “Being Jewish: A Bay Area Portrait.”

So what does being Jewish in the Bay Area mean? The photographs from both individuals and local institutions seem to indicate the answer involves family and friends, whether it’s sharing good times or taking part in rituals, or both.

The photos depict a wide variety of activities, from lighting Chanukah candles to touching the challah to praying at the top of Mount Tamalpais.

The large collage — running the length of the display cabinets in the Museum’s new Education Center — serves as a backdrop for a display of unique objects of Jewish culture and ritual.

Curatorial assistant Lisa Chanoff, who located all the items in the exhibit, says visitors will be able to grab a “Being Jewish” glossary that explains all the items.

One of the items in the exhibit is a Levi’s denim yarmulke, which wasn’t an official production item but was made for special occasions by a refugee from Poland who worked at Levi’s.

Also included: a Havdallah spice box designed in the shape of San Francisco’s Transamerica pyramid; a “Rally Rabbi” bobblehead from the San Francisco Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night; candlesticks originally from Romania that have been with a Bay Area family for generations; and a “Yo Semite” T-shirt from a Jewish children’s camp near Yosemite National Park.

“It’s a wonderful mix of traditional/historical and pop/contemporary objects,” Chanoff says. “We want to reach multiple audiences. It’s for people of all different backgrounds.”