Past Events

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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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Karen Spiegel Franklin, LBI’s Director of Family Research, reveals the surprising discoveries she made while researching two families, including an amazing invention and the connection between these families and their German relations on the eve of World War II. Karen currently serves as Chair of the Memorial Museums Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM)….

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After the Nuremberg trials and the start of the Cold War, most of the victors in World War II lost interest in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. Many of the lower-ranking perpetrators quickly blended in with the millions who were seeking to rebuild their lives in a new Europe, while those who felt most at risk fled the continent. The Nazi Hunters focuses on the small band of men and women who refused to allow their crimes to be forgotten—and who were determined to track them down to the farthest corners of the earth. At this book talk, Andrew Nagorski will discuss his new book.

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Leo Baeck Institute archivists show selected collections of interest to family historians from the archival collections. Tour starts at 1:00 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., Karen Spiegel Franklin and staff of the Leo Baeck Institute share case studies using a variety of resources from the LBI collections and beyond. Strategies may be helpful to family historians…

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In this Book Talk, Peter Schrag, author of When Europe Was a Prison Camp, will appear in conversation with Marion Kaplan.

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As German Jews struggled for legal emancipation, they also embarked on a program of cultural renewal, distancing themselves from their fellow Ashkenazim in Poland and giving a special place to the Sephardim of medieval Spain. In an elegantly written new book, John M. Efron (UC Berkeley) explains how German Jews idealized the Sephardim as worldly, morally and intellectually superior, and beautiful, products of the tolerant Muslim environment in which they lived.

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In the late 1930s, Phi Epsilon Pi, a Jewish collegiate fraternity, undertook an expansive national effort to bring over dozens of Central European Jewish refugees who were previously expelled from universities due to the rise of Nazism. Shira Kohn, CJH Taube/Koret Early Career Scholar Fellow, will present new research.

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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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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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One of the earliest controversies in Jewish-Christian relations was the 16th-century debate over whether Jews should be allowed to publish books on Jewish theology. Elisheva Carlebach (Columbia University) will speak about Johann Reuchlin, a humanist German scholar who defended Jewish publishing, at the opening of an exhibition of books related to the controversy.

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LBI President Emeritus and Chancellor Emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary Dr. Ismar Schorsch will provide introductory remarks at the opening of this LBI-curated exhibition at the Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York City.

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Pre-war Jewish life in Hungary from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries was astonishingly diverse in language, religious practice, and lifestyle. Join us for a fascinating evening as scholars of social history delve deeply into the thriving daily lives of these Hungarian, Yiddish, and German-speaking Jews along with author Andras Koerner.

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