On the front of the Leo Baeck Medal is an image of Rabbi Leo Baeck, (1873 – 1956), and the words, “Leader of German Jewry.” On the reverse, the words are, “so that the memory of a great past may not perish.”
When the medal was presented for the first time to Axel Springer in 1979 by then-LBI President Dr. Max Gruenewald, Dr. Gruenewald noted that we have no title to confer upon those who have helped us preserve the German-Jewish heritage, to those who have helped us continue the work in which we are engaged. We call them friends, and we honor them with the acknowledgement that this medal represents.
The medal is the highest recognition the Leo Baeck Institute can bestow upon those who have supported our mission of preserving the extraordinary spirit of German-speaking Jewry. We have honored those in the cultural realm, in academia, politics and philanthropy, and have found that the illustrious and tragic history reflected in the LBI library and archives has inspired at least two generations to hold fast to this legacy.
Recent recipients of the Leo Baeck Medal include:
- 2015—Dr. Eric R. Kandel, University Professor, Kavli Professor in Brain Science, and a co-Director for the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University
- 2014—Prof. Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor Emeritus of Jewish Theological Seminary, President Emeritus of Leo Baeck Institute.
- 2014—His Excellency Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- 2013—Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat (American diplomat)
- 2012—Margarethe von Trotta (German filmmaker)
- 2011—Anselm Kiefer (German artist)
- 2010—Kurt Masur (German musician) and Angela Merkel (Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany)
- Previous Recipients of the Leo Baeck Medal.