LBI News

LBI Aktuell ist der deutschsprachige Newsletter des Leo Baeck Instituts. Er erscheint unregelmaessig in einer Druck- und einer Onlineversion. Klicken Sie auf das Bild, um die Onlineversion herunterzuladen.

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LBI Opens Berlin Office

The office on Glinkastraße is the first step toward a more prominent role for the Leo Baeck Institute in making Germans more aware of the long and illustrious heritage we shared until 1933.

Documenting Jewish Life in East Germany

LBI is launching an initiative to document one of the least explored chapters of German-Jewish history: the contribution of German Jews to the foundation and development of East Germany.

Discovery in Romania

Over the past six months, LBI has conducted a survey of Jewish-related archives in Bukovina and Transylvania, two formerly German-speaking regions of Romania. Julie Dawson, the LBI archivist who spearheaded the project, explains how a chance finding in an abandoned synagogue led to a project that will radically expand access to Jewish records in a little-studied area by cataloging long-hidden resources online.

Progress Filling Gaps in Frankfurt Wissenschaft des Judentums Collection

LBI and the Frankfurt University Library have made significant progress in a joint effort to recreate a landmark collection of Judaica that was long believed to be permanently fragmented by World War II.

LBI Launches Online Catalog for Long-Hidden Romanian Archives

An online catalog at jbat.lbi.org, unveiled at Leo Baeck Institute on January 13, describes the location and content of about 600 archival items related to Jewish life, which are housed in Romanian archives.

Database of German Exile Publishers Now Online

LBI Library and Archives staff have built an online database of publishing houses founded by German-speaking refugees outside the German Reich and occupied Europe between 1933 and 1945. The new portal gives LBI’s substantial collection of Exilliteratur a higher profile and aids in the discovery of a body of work that is not otherwise linked…

Donation of Biochemist’s Library a Case Study in Provenance & Restitution

The LBI Library has been enriched by 40 volumes of scientific literature from the former library of Carl Neuberg (1877–1956), a pioneer in the study of biochemistry. This donation, the result of restitution efforts by the Central and Regional Library of Berlin (Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin – ZLB), is an emblematic case study in the complexities of provenance research and the restitution of looted cultural works.

Student-playwrights Meet Theresienstadt survivor at LBI

Theater teacher Sarah Cusick of Columbia Grammar and Preparatory school (l) asks a question of Miriam Merzbacher.

On April 4, 2014, the students from Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School quietly filed into the Center for Jewish History’s Lillian Goldman Reading Room to hear from Miriam Merzbacher. Miriam is a Berlin native who was interned in Theresienstadt, Hitler’s “model ghetto,” from September 1944 until the end of the war.

Edythe Griffinger Art Catalogue Will Improve Access to LBI Art Collection

Works by Eduard Magnes, Max Liebermann , and others in LBI's storage facility at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan. Photo: Jon Pack.

Thanks to a gift from a trust under the will of Edythe Griffinger, LBI has begun work on a project that will highlight its art collection. This grant will allow LBI to make the collection more accessible through the creation of a virtual art catalogue and a web portal that will allow the public to view artworks and artifacts that are rarely if ever on public display.

Wikipedians Write the Book on LBI Collections

“If you don’t think Wikipedia is good enough, create an account and make it better!” —Leonora Lange, CJH Archivist

At the first public CJH Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Saturday, May 4, 2014, about 30 volunteers, including CJH and LBI staff, members of the local NYC Wikimedia Chapter, and scholars and librarians from other institutions spent an afternoon creating and improving Wikipedia articles related to women in Jewish History.

LBI at Limmud Germany

At Limmud Germany, workshops were presented in German, Russian, and English, a mix that reflects the diverse backgrounds of the participants. Photo: Nathan Frank.

Limmud Germany held its seventh annual festival at a resort outside Berlin from May 29–June 1, 2014. About 400 participants attended workshops that spanned topics from Hebrew language, Jewish cuisine and a workshop by Dr. Frank Mecklenburg of LBI which covered the topic of German-Jewish history before 1933.

Exile in the Spotlight—LBI to Sponsor Conference on Émigré Theater Giant Kurt Hirschfeld

When the National Socialist regime engineered the “alignment” of cultural institutions from Berlin to Vienna with its own rigid ideological principles, the Schauspielhaus in Zurich became a refuge for free German theater. Even during the war years, audiences in Zurich could see radical new works by banned German playwrights, contemporary international works in translation, and…

LBI Partners with Genealogists to Focus on “Family Matters”

In the first of a series of measures aimed at improving access to its collections for family historians, LBI recently partnered with a group of German-Jewish genealogists to digitize Jüdische Familienforschung (Jewish Family Research), a genealogical journal published in Germany between 1924 and 1938. Funding was provided by the “German-Jewish Special Interest Group” (GerSIG), which…

From Gleiwitz to Shanghai, Digitized Periodicals offer Snapshots of Jewish Life

The LBI Library is pleased to announce that about 60 new periodicals are already available online through DigiBaeck and Internet Archive, with about 40 further periodicals in process. Among the rare items now available are 20th -century newsletters from various Jewish communities in Germany, Austria, and other German-speaking areas. Other highlights include publications from German-Jewish…

Germany’s Top Justice Official Tackles His Ministry’s Past at LBI

In the Center for Jewish History’s packed Forchheimer Auditorium, German Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas addressed the crowd and spoke about the high numbers of Nazi Party members and sympathizers that were employed in the post-1949 Ministry of Justice in Germany, which was tasked with interpreting and enforcing the law.

Family Matters: In Chicago, Generations Gather for Intimate Look at Family Histories Preserved in LBI Archives

LBI convened genealogists, friends, and family of two Chicagoans with German-Jewish roots for a discussion that connected individual and family narratives to the historical context of Jewish life in Germany before 1933, during the Holocaust, and today.

New Gift to Support Pilot Projects in Transcription and Photograph Digitization

LBI will launch pilot projects aimed at improving access to and discovery of two classes of materials in LBI archives that are rich in information but too often hidden from researchers: handwritten manuscripts and photographs.

LBI Materials Now Searchable in More Global Databases

Leo Baeck Institute has made strides toward integrating its holdings into major global library catalogs, which means more one-stop-shopping for researchers interested in Jewish history.

Preservation in the LBI Library

Caring for a library of over 80,000 physical volumes is a hands-on job, according to Lauren Paustian, an associate librarian who handles many of the LBI Library’s preservation efforts.

Sara Levy’s World: Music, Gender, and Judaism in Enlightenment Berlin

The Forchheimer Auditorium at the Center for Jewish History (CJH) took on the atmosphere of an artistic salon in Enlightenment-era Berlin on May 19 as a group of performers and scholars explored the life, times, and music of Sara Levy, one of the most influential hostesses of her day.

Stolen Heart: Exhibit on Expropriation in Heart of Berlin coming to LBI

Opening March 23, 2016 “Stolen Heart” focuses on “Aryanization,” or the forced transfer of Jewish property into non-Jewish hands, in Berlin’s central “Mitte” district. The stories of five families will illustrate a historical episode that has yet to be properly recognized and fully documented.

In our Midst. Facets of Jewish Life in Leipzig in the Modern Era

This exhibition at the City Library of Leipzig illuminates this history with items from LBI’s own rich collection alongside loans from local institutions including the Ephraim Carlebach Foundation and the City History Museum in Leipzig.

Exile in the Spotlight: How Kurt Hirschfeld made Zurich into the World Stage for German Theater

The ensemble of refugee Jews and Marxists that Hirschfeld assembled at the Schauspielhaus Zurich—from the expressionist theater pioneer Gustav Hartung to the distinguished actress and original “Mother Courage” Therese Giehse—kept the best traditions of German theater alive during the Nazi years.

More than Just a Moment—Unlocking the Value of the LBI Photo Collection

LBI recently launched an initiative to improve access to historic photographs in order to keep pace with evolving standards.

Field Work Continues for LBI Archival Survey in Romania

LBI’s survey of archives related to German-speaking Jewish communities in Bukovina and Transylvania is now entering its fourth year of field work in Romanian archival repositories. Field archivist and researcher Julie Dawson is currently wrapping up several months of research in Bucharest.

LBI Contributes Paper to UN Holocaust Outreach Program

How has the Leo Baeck Institute contributed to the remembrance of the Holocaust and its victims? Executive Director of the LBI, William H. Weitzer, discussed this question in a recent contribution to the United Nations Discussion Paper Series of the UN Holocaust Outreach Program.

Rare Painting by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim Shown at LBI

Freitag Abend [Friday Evening Blessing], an atmospheric painting from 1867 by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, was put on display by LBI at the Center for Jewish History from November 8–20, 2015.

Digitization and Beyond: LBI Staff Report on Library and Archives Trends

LBI Library staff Renate Evers, Ginger Barna, Tracey Felder and Lauren Paustian engaged with current issues and developments in librarianship at several conferences in 2015 and 2016.

A New Online Presence for the Leo Baeck Institute(s)

Since 2010, LBI staff in New York have engaged with donors, scholars, genealogists, and others on the Institute’s Facebook page. In June, LBI will launch a new Facebook presence that better represents the overlapping missions of the Leo Baeck Institutes in New York, London, and Jerusalem, as well as LBI – New York’s new office in Berlin.

Descendants of Expropriated Berlin Families Gather for Exhibition Opening

Before the opening reception in late March for the new exhibit, Stolen Heart: The Theft of Jewish Property in Berlin’s Historic City Center, 1933–1945, some very special guests met to share how the expropriation of Berlin’s Jews had touched their own families’ lives.

Family of Rare Book Donor Visits LBI

This spring, an exhibition in the David Berg Rare Book Room at the Center for Jewish History displayed rare books from the collection of Frank L. Herz. The works on display included Johannes Reuchlin’s Augenspiegel from 1511, one of the earliest treatises against antisemitism and intolerance. Descendents of Herz who attended the exhibition opening were moved seeing the collection of their father, father-in-law, and grandfather being presented to the public.

Milestone in the Reconstruction of the Freimann Collection

The Library of the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt added the 10,000th title to the Freimann Collection of books related to the Wissenschaft des Judentums. The LBI Library and the Center for Jewish History (CJH) have been working for years to help Frankfurt virtually reconstruct a foundational collection for Jewish studies that was once thought lost forever.

Promoting the Braunschweig Region as Cradle of Modern Jewish Studies

The banker Israel Jacobson (1768–1828) founded a school that became the first in Germany to educate both Jewish and Christian pupils. It was one of the first educational institutions to emerge from the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, and Israel Jacobson became a leader in the Jewish Reform movement. The Israel Jacobson Network, founded in April 2016 by representatives of 30 academic, cultural, business, and political institutions, promotes public awareness of the unique achievements of the remarkable citizens of the region. The founders of the network made it their goal to promote interest in Jewish history and culture through the creative use of historic sites.

“German and Jewish”— A traveling Exhibition by Leo Baeck Institute in Germany

In recent years, the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) has increasingly worked to support the engagement of modern German society with German Jewish history—especially from the perspective of the émigré community that built the LBI’s rich collections. The new traveling exhibit, “German and Jewish” takes this a step further. The objects in the exhibition are returning for the first time to the land that their owners left the better part of a century ago.

Conferences in Germany 2016: “1938: Forced Migration and Flight” and “Jews in the GDR”

LBI co-sponsored two conferences in Germany in fall 2016: The conferences in Leipzig and Berlin took a fresh look at two chapters of German Jewish history—forced migration, specifically in the year of 1938, and Jewish life in the GDR.

Survey of Romanian Archives Shifts Focus to Jewish Community Records

A survey of archival material related to the Jewish history of Transylvania and Bukovina will begin a new chapter based on important discoveries by project director Julie Dawson, who found rich unprocessed information in Jewish community archives.

Art Books From LBI Collections Now Available Through Getty Research Portal

Art books from the LBI collections are now available through the Getty Research Portal. The new partnership is aimed at increasing public exposure to digitized illustrated books and artists’ portfolios in the LBI’s collections that may not be available anywhere else.

A Visit to the German Literature Archive in Marbach

This June, Renate Evers, Director of Collections, visited the German Literature Archive. (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach – DLA). In Marbach, she gave a talk about traces of emigrant libraries in the collections of the LBI and spent a week learning about the activities and holdings of the leading repository of sources related to German-language literature. In this article, Evers shares about the many parallels she and her colleagues at the DLA discovered between their institutions as well as rich opportunities for future collaboration…

Commemorating 80 Years Since 1938, One Day at a Time

1938 was a watershed year for German-speaking Jews as they were forced to realize that they had no future in Germany. In 2018, the Leo Baeck Institute will post online a document from each day of the year. Join us for an unusual journey, 80 years back in time, to remember—or to learn—how the events unfolded.

A New Provenance Research Handbook for Jewish Ceremonial Objects

The idea for a new handbook on provenance research emerged during preparations for the Terezin Declaration at the Holocaust-Era-Assets Conference in Prague in 2009. After overcoming the financial and organizational hurdles that come with such an endeavor, Julie-Marthe Cohen presents a work that includes detailed guides to the main archival sources for provenance research on looted goods as well as a historical overview of looting and dispersion and an illustrated introduction to Jewish ceremonial objects in general.

LBI Builds Digital Home for Émigré Journal “Aufbau”

Leo Baeck Institute has completed digitizing all issues of the German-Jewish émigré Journal, Aufbau published between 1934 and 2004, thus ensuring that the entire contents of the most important publication of the global German-Jewish refugee and exile community will remain available online to researchers.

Showdown at the Sterling Oval, 1942: Soccer Coverage in Aufbau

The youth team of the New World Club at the “Sterling Oval” in the Bronx, undated

In the 1930s and 1940s, a lively soccer culture was supported in the New York City area by immigrants from all over Europe, including Jewish refugees from Germany. Fans who craved the latest on Jewish teams like the New World Club, Hakoah New York, and Maccabi would find it in the pages of Aufbau.

“Aufbau” – Reconstruction as a Mission

The masthead on the inaugural issue of Aufbau.

Aufbau shuttered its New York offices in August 2004, but the paper’s story did not end there. The Swiss company JM Jüdische Medien AG acquired the paper and re-launched it as a monthly magazine a year later. JM Jüdische Medien’s US Editor, Andreas Mink, reflects on the history of the paper and its journey back to…

An Intellectual Resistance

Language is the very essence of identity and culture; it is the “raison d’être” for a writer, who uses the power that comes with the command of language to act as the conscience of society. The Nazis abused the German language for their political goals and especially their propaganda, but Aufbau has used it to advocate for German-Jewish concerns until the present day.

Knowledge in Flight: A Conversation with Henry Kaufman on Scholar Rescue

The LBI archives are full of references to scholars who escaped the Nazi threat with the aid of foreign benefactors. The political philosopher Hannah Arendt, the sociologist Werner Cahnman, and the writers Franz Werfel, Hans Sahl, and Lion Feuchtwanger are among the hundreds saved by the American journalist Varian Fry working in Marseille. The list of over 330 scholars placed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in an effort helmed by Edward R. Murrow resembles a list of LBI archival collections. Illustrator Hugo Steiner-Prag landed at NYU, a position was found in Berkeley for historian Ernst Kantorowicz, and the art historian Hermann Gundersheimer took a position at Temple University. Today, another generation of benefactors is continuing this work through some of the same institutions.

Making the Edythe Griffinger Art Catalog – Interview with Chris Bentley, Systems Archivist

In March 2017, LBI celebrated the launch of the Edythe Griffinger Art Catalog, a new way to search LBI’s unique art and objects catalog online. LBI News spoke to two staff members who played a key role in developing this unique resource. Here is the interview with Chris.

Making the Edythe Griffinger Art Catalog – Interview with Kerry Elkins, Project Manager

In March 2017, LBI celebrated the launch of the Edythe Griffinger Art Catalog, a new way to search LBI’s unique art and objects catalog online. LBI News spoke to two staff members who played a key role in developing this unique resource. Here is the interview with Kerry.

Working To Get Memory, and the Past, Right

David N. Myers is professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he holds the Sady & Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History. He was recently named President & CEO of the Center for Jewish History in New York. As he wrote in this essay originally published in the Jewish Week, his personal connection to Germany and its past is one of deep ambivalence.

Roger Cohen on German-Jewish History in the 21st Century

Roger Cohen’s journalistic career has included stints covering Beirut in the 1980s, the Bosnian war in the 1990s, the return of the German government to Berlin in 2000, and the War in Afghanistan as the New York Times’ foreign editor after September 11, 2001. In the biweekly columns he has written for the Times since 2009, he often tackles the issues of the day with historical context and analogies. In advance of the 60th Leo Baeck Memorial Lecture, which Cohen will deliver this October, we asked him about the relevance of German-Jewish history to the Syrian refugee crisis and other pressing contemporary issues.

Film Scholar Noah Isenberg Will Always Have Casablanca

Noah Isenberg, director of screen studies at The New School and a member of the LBI’s Academic Advisory Board, is the author of a new history of the iconic film Casablanca that focuses on the role of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe in the making of the film. LBI News spoke to Isenberg about his research.

Gerald Westheimer Career Development Fellows 2016

Thanks to the generosity of Professor Gerald Westheimer, the LBI supports fellowships for scholars who are early in their careers to pursue research on the social, cultural, and academic aspects of the life of Jews in German-speaking countries between the time of Moses Mendelssohn and the Third Reich and its aftermath. The LBI is proud to introduce Verena Buser and Nick Block as the Gerald Westheimer Career Development Fellows for 2016–2017.

Leo Baeck Medal for Robert M. Morgenthau

At the LBI’s Annual Award Dinner on November 17, 2016 at the Center for Jewish History, friends, family, and colleagues gathered to honor Robert M. Morgenthau with the Leo Baeck Medal for a lifetime of public service. Director Emeritus of the Museum of Jewish Heritage David Marwell offered an appreciation that began with the Morgenthau family’s German-Jewish roots and encompassed the family’s century-long tradition of public service, including Robert Morgenthau’s legendary career as a prosecutor who used the law to protect the vulnerable and hold power to account. As Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, David Marwell worked closely with the museum’s Founding Chairman, Robert Morgenthau, on a major expansion in 2003. On the occasion of the award of the Leo Baeck Medal to Morgenthau, he reflected on aspects of Morgenthau’s life, work and personality.

2017 Obermayer Award Winners

At the Berlin city parliament building in January 2017, six non-Jewish German individuals or groups were presented the Obermayer German Jewish History Award for their efforts to preserve and document German-Jewish history. The LBI congratulates the winners on this richly deserved honor.

In Memoriam: Arnold Paucker

The Leo Baeck Institute, New York|Berlin mourns the loss of historian Arnold Paucker, who led the Leo Baeck Institute London from 1959 until 2001. Paucker was editor of the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book from 1978 until 1992 and a highly respected scholar whose academic work focused on Jewish resistance to the Nazis. He died in October, 2016.

Walter Langhammer and the Illumination of India

Walter Langhammer, born in 1905 in the Austrian city of Graz, is considered one of the founding fathers of the most famous of India’s schools of modern oil painting, the “Bombay Progressives.” The LBI preserves three of his joy- and colorful paintings, both in its New York based archives as well as online. In this article, we honor Langhammer’s creative and dedicated path of life, all the way to India and back.

Preserving Yesterday’s News with the CJH and Frankfurt University Library

The LBI is working toward the digitization of 60 rare periodicals encompassing 70,000 pages in 2017 after having already digitized 130 periodical titles in 2016. Many of the newspapers preserved in the collections of the LBI are more than a century old, and few other media in the library world show the ravages of time like newspapers, which were practically designed to be disposable. That makes digitizing them as tricky as it is urgent.

Listening to Records—The Jacob Jacobson Collection in Research

Jordan Katz, a fellow at the Center for Jewish History and a member of the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme in 2016–2017, has been making use of the Jacob Jacobson Collection at the LBI for her doctoral research. The fourth-year Ph.D. student in Early Modern Jewish history at Columbia University explores the role of Jewish “wise women” and midwives in communities in the early modern Ashkenazic world.

Research, Exploitation, and Survival: The Story of Jacob Jacobson, a Jewish Archivist in Nazi Germany

One of the largest and most-used collections in the LBI archives is named for a little known historian and archivist who, like Leo Baeck, survive Theresienstadt. The Jacob Jacobson Collection spans 16 feet of archival boxes plus oversized materials, encompassing birth, death, marriage, and circumcision registers dating back as far as 1671. How could this enormous body of materials survive the Nazi period?

“We have wandered together a long, long way”—The Hans and Eleonore Jonas Collection

In summer 2016, Ayalah Jonas, the daughter of the philosopher Hans Jonas, donated part of her parents’ library and personal papers to the LBI. The archival collection contains unpublished manuscripts, poems, and drawings by the philosopher Hans Jonas (1903–1993) as well as documents related to the history of the family and a circle of friends including Hannah Arendt.

History by the Foot: Processing Archival Collections at the LBI

It is not unusual for suitcases, banker’s boxes, and even plastic bags containing historical material to be opened for the first time in decades at the LBI. With this article, we take you on a short trip alongside two such suitcases. Adventures in archival processing await!

A Voice Still Heard—Music and Musicians in LBI Collections

A new website highlights the stories of German-Jewish musicians, conductors, and composers based on items in the LBI’s art, archival, and library collections.

The Jewish Liturgical Year: Calendars in LBI Collections

The LBI library holds hundreds of calendars in German and Hebrew that lay out the same annual rhythms of life and prayer according to the lunisolar calendar for centuries.

The Roedelheim Mahzor Collection: Change and Continuity

Recently Moriah Amit, a librarian at the LBI and the Center for Jewish History, finished cataloguing a unique collection of mahzors published in Roedelheim. These editions, comprising 15 complete sets of the prayer books, were published between 1800 and 1923 in Roedelheim, Germany. Over more than 140 hours, Amit cataloged 304 volumes of 77 editions that are preserved in the LBI library collection. Their appearance—the change in printed layout and language chosen by the publisher, as well as notes and inscriptions by the owner, or generations of owners—reflect the interplay of continuity and change that mark all religious-cultural traditions.

Tarnschriften: Camouflaged Publications in Resistance Against the Nazis

Tarnschriften, or camouflaged publications, were one way to avoid censorship in Germany between 1933 and 1945: Texts that were forbidden by the Nazis were hidden between inconspicuous cover pages. The LBI holds two of these publications in its collection.