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Shared History Project

The Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin (LBI) is initiating our new project, Shared History: 1700 Years of Jewish Life in German-speaking Lands through 52 Objects.

The Shared History project tells the story of Jews in Central Europe throughout history using 52 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.

LBI invites you to nominate objects for the Shared History project. Because the goal is to create a virtual exhibit, nominations are not limited to physical artifacts. In addition, we will also consider metaphorical motifs, fictional concepts, mythologies, architectural landmarks, and imagery as eligible. Each nominated object should serve as commentary on historical events and their contemporary relevance to larger themes, including migration, inclusion, acculturation, exclusion, persecution, success, and resilience.

The proposed objects will be evaluated by a Selection Committee in early 2020 based on how they:

  • 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 52 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.

Nominations (in German or English) can be submitted here. The deadline for submission is Sunday, December 8, 2019. For additional information or if you know of others who might want to submit nominations please contact us at shared-history@lbi.org.