Video of Past Events

The 2016 film Germans & Jews explores the country’s transformation from silence about the Holocaust to facing it head on. Post-film discussion with Steven Sokol (American Council on Germany), Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz (Hebrew Union College), and attorney Steve Zehden (Noerr LLP).

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Nearly a century ago in Weimar Germany, a group of physicians and psychologists around Magnus Hirschfeld, many of them Jewish, fought to end the criminalization of homosexuality in Germany with arguments based on a study of human sexuality that was empirical and descriptive rather than normative. Legendary author and educator Ruth Westheimer joins historians Atina Grossmann and Robert Beachy to explore the legacy of German-Jewish gay rights and sex reform pioneers.

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In a post-election essay for the New Yorker, the critic Alex Ross wrote that the “combination of economic inequality and pop-cultural frivolity” in current American life were precisely the fertile ground for an American catastrophe that the Jewish intellectuals of the Frankfurt School anticipated in their studies of antisemitism, mass culture, and the “authoritarian personality”. Jack Jacobs (CUNY), Jonathon Catlin (Princeton), and Liliane Weissberg (Penn) discuss how the Frankfurt School’s analysis of antisemitism in particular sheds light on the racism undergirding contemporary right-wing populist movements

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A 2013 Pew study alarmed some by showing rising intermarriage, falling birthrates, and dwindling religious affiliation among the non-Orthodox. Samuel Norich, (The Forward), moderates a discussion with Steven Cohen (Hebrew Union College) and Robin Judd (Ohio State University) about the parallels and contrasts between the situations of German Jews a century ago and American Jews today.

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Through a close reading of key paintings and by a discussion of his many cultural networks across Germany and throughout Europe, this new study by Marion Deshmukh illuminates the painter Max Liebermann’s importance as a pioneer of German modernism.

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In his early works, Luther discouraged mistreatment of the Jews and advocated their conversion by proving that the Old Testament could be shown to speak of Jesus Christ. As the Reformation continued, Luther lost hope in large-scale Jewish conversion to Christianity and grew more and more hostile toward the Jews.

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Susannah Heschel will investigate how Abraham Geiger’s and Heinrich Graetz’s accounts of the origins of Christianity and Islam helped forge the cultural climate for German Jews. Through their pioneering studies, they sought not simply an assimilation into German culture and the German academic community for Jews, but something much more radical: a reconfiguration of the map of Western civilization.

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Refugee, smuggler, resistant, intellectual. Even before the age of 21, Professor Justus Rosenberg had lived many lives. Sarah Wildman—author of a major profile of Professor Rosenberg for the New York Times and the celebrated memoir “Paper Love”—will speak to Rosenberg about his life and work.

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Economic historian Harold James (Princeton) will talk about the methods and aftermath of the Nazi expropriation of Jews at a reception for the opening of an exhibition that traces the emblematic stories of five Jewish families in Berlin’s historic center.

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Burning Words is a dramatization of the head-on collision between the humanist scholar Reuchlin and Pfefferkorn, a willing tool of the Dominican Order in their campaign against the Jews. Reuchlin accuses Pfefferkorn of betraying his people. Pfefferkorn accuses Reuchlin of selling his soul for a fistful of silver shekels. While it is a history play, Burning Words has a clear resonance with contemporary issues of a changing media landscape, censorship, fundamentalism, and tolerance.

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German-born industrialist Stef Wertheimer discusses his exceptional new biography, “The Habit of Labor” (Overlook Press, 2015) with Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief of the Forward.

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Dr. Eric R. Kandel will accept the Leo Baeck Medal during a special evening at the Center for Jewish History in New York. Dr. Kandel is a neuroscientist whose work on the molecular biology of memory opened new methods of inquiry into the study of brain and mind.

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The Leo Baeck Institutes in New York and London sponsored the first international conference on the German-Jewish émigré theater director Kurt Hirschfeld in Zurich in March 2015. Now, LBI will reprise that successful program in New York City.

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Michael Meyer, Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History Emeritus at Hebrew Union College, will survey the history of German-speaking Jews and the Leo Baeck Institute’s ˜efforts to document it in celebration of LBI’s 60th year.

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A group of elite, cosmopolitan Jewish women played a central role in shaping the dynamic cultural world of late 18th-century Berlin. Sara Levy, an influential salon hostess and performing musician interacted with important composers and intellectuals of her day. Professors Nancy Sinkoff (Rutgers) and Christoph Wolff (Harvard) comment on Levy’s life and times and the music performed in this concert.

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