Remembering Mendelssohn and Lessing in Germany

Lessing and Mendelssohn’s friendship, especially its literary manifestation in “Nathan the Wise,” has endured in Germany as an important symbol of how the Enlightenment offered an intellectual framework for tolerance by attempting to reconcile rationality and religion. Beginning in 1829, the 100th anniversary of Mendelssohn’s birth, German Jews organized regular Mendelssohn celebrations. In 1879, the Mendelssohn sesquicentennial occurred against the background of a rising tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish agitation in Germany. Once again, celebrations focused on the friendship between Mendelssohn and Lessing.

Mendelssohn Commemorations in German History