Past Events

Lucas Cranach, Luther as a monk, 1520. Oil on panel. Gotha Schloss Friedstein

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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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Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau will accept the Leo Baeck Medal during a special evening at the Center for Jewish History in New York. Join us when we honor a tireless advocate for justice and a champion for preserving Jewish memory.

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One of the jewels of the collection of the National Library of Israel is Ms. Heb. 8o6527, a stunningly illuminated High-Holiday Mahzor from the second quarter of the fourteenth century. Librarians and curators have long sought ways to provide access to unique works like this, which remain untouchable when exhibited and offer none of the physical pleasures of books when digitized. World-class craftsmen like Michael and Linda Falter of Facsimile Editions offer yet another solution: the production of facsimiles of important manuscripts as a one-to-one reproduction, designed to imitate the original down to the last detail. The event will focus on the Falters’ stunning recreation of the Catalan Mahzor as well as the original book’s remarkable journey.

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Gershom Scholem

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The historian Gershom Scholem has often been seen as a solitary figure who followed a lonely path to discovering the secrets of the Kabbalah. But in the crucial years before Scholem left Germany for British Mandate Palestine in 1923, he was deeply engaged in intellectual and social relationships that are critical for understanding his biography. Lecture by David Biale (UC Davis).

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Wallstrasse 16, Berlin. 1908. This building belonged to one of the families whose stories are told by the LBI exhibit, "Stolen Heart."
Credit: Historisches Archiv der BVG, Berlin

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In conjunction with the exhibition, Stolen Heart, which deals with the expropriation of Berlin’s Jews, historian Elazar Barkan (Columbia University) will lead a panel discussion of the historical, legal, moral, and emotional aspects of restitution featuring journalist Sarah Wildman and psychiatrist and author Joanne Intrator.

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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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MGM Poster for Grand Hotel

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At a luxurious Berlin hotel between the wars, the once-wealthy Baron Felix von Gaigern (John Barrymore) supports himself as a thief and gambler among a cast of other colorful characters. Film scholar Noah Isenberg (The New School) introduces this lavish adaptation of the Austrian-Jewish writer Vicki Baum’s genre-defining 1929 novel, Menschen im Hotel.

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He drew sketches on tiny pieces of paper and sent them from the trenches to a young cellist who was waiting for him in Berlin. She thought he was a genius, and after WWI she helped him become the busiest architect in Germany. Historian Gavriel Rosenfeld (Fairfield University) introduces this cinematic meditation on the architect Erich Mendelsohn.

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This effervescent, sunlit silent film, about a handful of city dwellers enjoying a weekend outing (a charming cast of nonprofessionals), offers a rare glimpse of Weimar-era Berlin. Film Scholar Noah Isenberg (The New School) introduces a screening of this early experimental masterpiece by Jewish filmmakers who all went on to become major players in Hollywood.

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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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Jews from Czechoslovakia who were part of the German cultural and language sphere before the war stood more or less outside the clearly delimited categories of the post-war world. They felt exposed to far more complex identity pressure in the Czech lands than was the case for assimilated Czech Jews. Monika Hanková will present the unique biography of Magdalena Robitscher-Hahn, a German-Jewish doctor from the Sudetenland. Her aim is to demonstrate significant differences in Jewish women’s perception of their post-war experience using the example of selected life stories of individuals originating from different language environments existing in Czechoslovakia at that time, and subsequently their experience from emigration.

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einstein-violin

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Albert Einstein is known to have said that “life without playing music is inconceivable…I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…I get most joy in life out of music.” As part of its exploration of Gravity 350, the Chelsea Music Festival presents a program at the Leo Baeck Institute celebrating Einstein’s contributions to science as well as his lifelong love for his violin and chamber music.

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It has been remarked that, before the total destruction of Austria’s Jewish culture in the Holocaust, the “only true Austrians” were the Jewish Austrians. Join us for a discussion between scholars of Jewish-Austrian culture and former Jewish-Austrian exiles on how “Old Austria” is remembered in the United States today. Tim Corbett, a Prins Postdoctoral Fellow…

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The New York Times bestselling author Lauren Belfer (A Fierce Radiance and City of Light) speaks about her new and passionate novel—inspired by historical events—about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes both their lives. In the ruins of Germany in 1945, at the…

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A prolific composer whose teachers included Reger and Debussy, Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) perished in the Holocaust. This evening presents selected pieces of his work. Schulhoff’s “Hot Sonata for Saxophone and Piano” (1930) will be performed by Mart Ehrlich, saxophone, and Mimi Stern-Wolfe, piano. The Downtown Chamber Quartet with Marshall Cold, violin; Rachel Golub, violin; Veronica…

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