OUT OF THE BOX: STORIES FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE ARCHIVES Series Premieres at the Center for Jewish History

It was a historic moment when Sidney Franklin stepped into a bullring in Mexico in 1923. Dressed in a glistening costume and wearing fine slippers, the Brooklyn-born son of Russian Jewish immigrants was about to launch a multi-decade career as the world's first Jewish bullfighter. "El Torero de la Torah" would go on to a life of great celebrity and - as a closeted gay man - deep secrecy, yet his story has receded into relative obscurity over time. So when Rachel Miller began to sort through the boxes of the Sidney Franklin Collection held by the American Jewish Historical Society at the Center for Jewish History, she was amazed.

"Looking first at the photographs, I was struck by his flamboyance and horrified by the violence of the bullfight, and when I discovered he was gay on top of Jewish, I was hooked," said Miller, the Director of Archive & Library Services at the Center for Jewish History. "I wanted to know what led him from his Orthodox Jewish family in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to life as a matador in Mexico and Spain, and that journey will be fascinating to so many."

In the premiere program of a new archival series called Out of the Box, Miller has mined Franklin's collection for photographs, audio recordings, and personal effects, to present the intriguing story of El Torero de la Torah or The Bullfighter from Brooklyn, on June 3 at 7 pm at the Center for Jewish History. Offered during LGBTQ Pride Month, the program not only shares Sidney Franklin's intriguing professional story but also allows for reflection on his life as a closeted gay man a century ago.

Home to five partner organizations, the Center for Jewish History houses the extraordinary archival collections of the American Sephardic Institute, the American Jewish Historical Society, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Yeshiva University Museum. The series, Out of the Box is designed to showcase the remarkable treasures and captivating stories tucked away in tens of thousands of boxes - and rarely seen by the public.The partners' combined - and world renowned - collections span 1000 years and include millions of documents, hundreds of thousands of books, and countless photographs, artworks, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films, and stories.

Out of the Box also reveals the nifty detective work and expert sleuthing that the Center for Jewish History community of over 50 archivists and librarians carry out every day. On June 12 at 2 pm, Archivist Sarah Glover will present the second program in the series, From Prague to Princeton: The Story of a German Jewish Family - a tale of devotion, heartache, and intrigue - from the archives of the Leo Baeck Institute.

"I have met a lot of interesting people in my work, but the story of the Kulbach family has affected me like almost no other," Glover said. "The absolute best part of processing an archival collection is getting to meet the people within the collection and learning their stories. With that comes the privilege and responsibility to share these stories and ensure that they are not forgotten."

Tickets for El Torero de la Torah or The Bullfighter from Brooklyn: $10 general; $7 seniors; $5 CJH/Partner members, students at torero.bpt.me or 800-838-3006.

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