LBI News

LBI News is the official newsletter of Leo Baeck Institute. It appears in print and online three times annually in Fall, Winter, and Spring. Click the image to download a PDF copy.

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Germany’s Top Justice Official Tackles His Ministry’s Past at LBI

In the Center for Jewish History’s packed Forchheimer Auditorium, German Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas addressed the crowd and spoke about the high numbers of Nazi Party members and sympathizers that were employed in the post-1949 Ministry of Justice in Germany, which was tasked with interpreting and enforcing the law.

Family Matters: In Chicago, Generations Gather for Intimate Look at Family Histories Preserved in LBI Archives

LBI convened genealogists, friends, and family of two Chicagoans with German-Jewish roots for a discussion that connected individual and family narratives to the historical context of Jewish life in Germany before 1933, during the Holocaust, and today.

New Gift to Support Pilot Projects in Transcription and Photograph Digitization

LBI will launch pilot projects aimed at improving access to and discovery of two classes of materials in LBI archives that are rich in information but too often hidden from researchers: handwritten manuscripts and photographs.

Leo Baeck Medal for Josef Joffe

The German journalist accepted the honor at LBI’s Annual Award Dinner at the Center for Jewish History on December 3, 2014 and delivered the 57th Leo Baeck Memorial Lecture, in which he weighed the possibility that a new golden age of German-Jewry might arise again.

Understanding through Cooperation: Germany Honors Carol Kahn Strauss

On January 20, 2015, LBI International Director Carol Kahn Strauss was presented the Commander´s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by Consul General Brita Wagener. The decoration was awarded in appreciation of her outstanding accomplishments and commitment to German-American-Jewish relations for more than two decades.

Michael Brenner Recognized as “Guardian of Jewish History”

On November 19, 2015 at the Center for Jewish History, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas presented LBI International President Michael Brenner with the Federal Order of Merit, (Verdienstkreuz am Bande) praising the historian as a guardian of Jewish history and an important supporter of Jewish life in Germany and worldwide.

Gerald Westheimer: A Vision for Scholarship on German-Jewish History

Gerald Westheimer, born 1924 in Berlin, established the Gerald Westheimer Career Development Fellowship in 2008 to support scholarship on the history and culture of German-speaking Jews by offering financial support to recent PhDs early in their faculty careers.

Collections
Pioneers of Jewish Studies

The definitive collection of Wissenschaft scholarship was created by curator Aron Freimann at the Frankfurt City Library between 1898 and 1932. Large portions of the collection were lost in WWII, but today LBI is working with the Frankfurt University Library to recreate Freimann’s collection online. The following profiles of key Wissenschaft scholars and some of their most important works illustrates the intellectual breadth of the Wissenschaft movement, its diversity of religious and political perspectives, and its impact on Jewish practice and identity today. The texts below were largely adapted from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, an important compendium of Jewish knowledge which was written in the spirit of the Wissenschaft and recently entered the public domain.


Leopold Zunz (1794 – 1886)

In December 1817, Leopold Zunz, an instructor at a Jewish school in Wolfenbüttel, wrote an essay entitled Etwas über die Rabbinische Litteratur (“On Rabinnical Literature”). This little book marks an epoch in the history of modern Jewish scholarship.

Abraham Geiger (1810 – 1874)

One of the leading figures of the Reform Judaism movement, Abraham Geiger believed that Judaism was not a given quantity or a national law but a process still in flux; tradition itself was the result of this continuous process of growth.

Zacharias Frankel (1801 – 1875)

Zacharias Frankel was one of the leading advocates for Conservative Judaism in Germany. As a proponent of “positive historical Judaism” he held that Reform Judaism ignored the national component of Judaism and focused mainly on its intellectual aspects.

Esriel Hildesheimer (1820 – 1899)

Hildesheimer believed strongly in the principle of Torah im derekh erez (Torah and worldly knowledge): that halakhic observance was not only compatible with the study of science and other secular subjects, but that both were necessary to recognize and become close to God.

Moritz Steinschneider (1816 – 1907)

Steinschneider’s magnum opus about Jewish translations of the Middle Ages shows how Arabic and Hebrew writers were instrumental in the transfer of classical Greek knowledge to Europe and Western culture.