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Shared History

1700 Years of Jewish Life in German-speaking Lands

The Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin (LBI) plans to launch a new project, Shared History: 1700 Years of Jewish Life in German-speaking Lands.

The Shared History project tells the story of Jews in Central Europe using 58 objects, beginning with an edict from Constantine the Great in 321 C.E. that granted the Jews of Cologne the right to hold public office and concluding with a contemporary artifact in 2021. Each object will illustrate how German-Jewish history is deeply interwoven with the peoples, regions, and countries throughout Central Europe. To learn more about the Shared History project, please see here.

Representatives from the Jewish community, German officials, and museum and library professionals will evaluate the hundreds of nominated objects to select the 58 that best achieve the following:

  • tell a compelling specific story or phenomenon about German-speaking Jewish history;
  • illustrate important aspects of Jewish culture and religious practice throughout this time period;
  • add understanding to the broad message that Jews have been living in German-speaking lands for centuries;
  • add to an understanding of one or more of the larger themes of the historical narrative (e.g., migration, inclusion, exclusion, acculturation, persecution, success, and resilience);
  • document the interaction and on-going cultural, scientific and economic exchange between majority Christian, Jewish, and other populations;
  • collectively represent a broad geographical area to be defined as territories that include European lands where German once was or still is the predominant language or an important language for a significant population; and,
  • offer interesting opportunities for display in a virtual exhibition and in print.

The 58 objects and their stories will be researched in depth and posted in chronological order (one object each week starting in January 2021) on a Shared History website, both in German and English. As the attached project description explains, the examples from the website will serve as a basis for additional activities – a conference, a traveling exhibition (using replicas), public events, pedagogical applications, and a publication.

For additional information please contact us at shared-history@lbi.org.