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New Year Greeting

New Year Greeting

Attributed to Happy Jack (born Angokwazhuk) (Inupiaq, b. Alaska, c. 1870-1918)
Nome, Alaska, United States, 1910
  • Walrus tusk: engraved; gold inset
  • Height: 10 in. (25.4 cm) Diameter: 1 in. (2.5 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of the Kanofsky Family in memory of Minnie Kanofsky, 1984-71
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New Year Greeting

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CLOSE LOOKING / VISUAL ANALYSIS:

Encourage students to examine the Jewish New Year's Greeting carefully:

  • Describe the images and writing you see on this object. Look closely at the shape, color, and apparent texture of the object. What do you think this object is made of? What do you think it was used for?

  • Notice the way the people are depicted. What do their depictions tell you about the origin of this object?




FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION:

After giving students ample opportunity to examine the Jewish New Year’s Greeting, translate the Hebrew inscription and explain the object’s use. Lead students in a discussion of related topics and themes:

  • Why do you think new immigrants to this country would move to a frontier like Alaska?

  • How would the life of Russian Jewish immigrants in Alaska have differed from the life of Russian Jewish immigrants living on the Lower East Side or in another urban area?

  • Jewish New Year’s greetings are generally written on paper, not engraved on walrus tusk. Why do you think the couple featured on the tusk commissioned such an unusual greeting? Do you think the use of a traditional Inuit craft makes their greeting any less "Jewish"? Why or why not?




RESEARCH TOPICS / CONTENT CONNECTIONS

  • American Jewish Life in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries
  • The American Frontier in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries
  • Ethnic Traditions
  • American Folk Art