Every individual and institution around the world is confronting daunting challenges in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced radical changes in how we live and work. We are in the early stages of the unprecedented economic impact of the pandemic, which has left millions unemployed in the US alone and threatens to exacerbate economic inequality. The brutal killing of George Floyd, and the widespread protests that it has inspired, have demonstrated the urgent need for essential changes that will protect people of color from the disproportionate violence inflicted on them. To be meaningful, these changes must also address the unequal impact that health and economic crises have on poor and minority communities.
We at the Leo Baeck Institute are dedicated, as before, to preserving the history of German-speaking Jewry and making it available to a broad public through innovative cultural programming, and to the world of scholars through digital access to our rich resources. We have long approached this work with the view that the experience of German-speaking Jews with antisemitism and fascism on the one hand and emancipation and activism on the other are useful for understanding today’s world. We view the killing of George Floyd, among other recent events, as a renewed challenge to contribute to the essential and far-reaching conversations about racism and inequality that are animating our society. We urge our friends and supporters to stay informed and, wherever possible, to join us in finding meaning and relevance in the past that can help us as we address the urgent issues confronting us today.
June 18, 2020
David G. Marwell, President
William H. Weitzer, Executive Director
Leo Baeck Institute – NewYork | Berlin