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Leo Baeck Institute

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Title: Leo Baeck Institute  
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Leo Baeck Institute

The Leo Baeck Institute
Formation 1955
Founders Hannah Arendt
Martin Buber
Siegfried Moses
Gershom Scholem
Ernst Simon
Robert Weltsch
Type Research Institute
International President
Michael Brenner

Leo Baeck Institute

  • New York / Berlin
  • Jerusalem
  • London

The Leo Baeck Institute is an international research institute with centres in New York, London and Jerusalem that are devoted to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry.[1][2]

Organizational structure

The Leo Baeck Institute is made up of three independent international institutes, two Berlin centres, and two Berlin working groups that are governed by the Leo Baeck Institute International board:[3]

  • Leo Baeck Institute, New York / Berlin
  • Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem
  • Leo Baeck Institute, London
  • Berlin centres:
    • Leo Baeck Institute New York – Berlin Office
    • Leo Baeck Institute Archives at the Jewish Museum Berlin
  • Berlin working groups:
    • Freunde und Förderer des LBI e.V.
    • Wissenschaftliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft des LBI in Deutschland


In the beginning of the 1950s some of the most influential Jewish scholars from Germany met in Jerusalem to discuss what form the Leo Baeck Institute would take. The founding conference took place from May 25–31, 1955; Martin Buber, Ernst Simon and Gershom Scholem were some of the intellectual heavyweights present.

Most attendees as well as the personalities steering the institute had known each other before their flight from Germany through organizations like the [4]:240-242 It is named in honor of its international president, Leo Baeck, the senior Rabbi of Berlin in Germany's Weimar Republic and the last leader of the Jewish Community under the Nazis.[5][6][7] The Leo Baeck Institute, New York, was founded in 1955, at the same time as the parent organization, and is the United States branch of the organization.


Presidents of Leo Baeck Institute International, the umbrella organization of the institute:

  • 1955-1956: Leo Baeck
  • 1956-1974: Siegfried Moses[4]:243
  • 1974-1992: Max Grunewald[4]:90[5]
  • 1992-2013: Michael A. Meyer[4]:244
  • 2013-present: Michael Brenner[8]

Leo Baeck Institute, New York / Berlin

The [9]

  • Leo Baeck Institute, New York’s library collection: 80,000 volumes which range from collected works associated with the 16th century Reuchlin-Pfefforkorn debate over the banning of Jewish books to recent scholarship in the field of German-Jewish studies.[10]
  • Leo Baeck Institute archive: Over 4,000 linear feet of family papers, community histories, personal correspondence, genealogical materials, and business and public records of German-speaking Jews from the 18th century to the post-WWII era.[11]
  • Leo Baeck Institute art collection: 8,000 pieces of art that include works created or collected by German-speaking Jews from the 16th through the 20th centuries

Additionally, Leo Baeck Institute, New York also administers several fellowships for scholars working in the field of German-Jewish history, produces exhibitions and public programming related to German-Jewish history, and awards the Leo Baeck Medal annually for special achievements related to German-Jewish history and Culture.

Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem

As the second generation took over, the LBI Jerusalem transformed from a memorial community to a research centre. Almost all members of the LBI Jerusalem’s second generation were professional historians, most had left Germany as children or adolescents and had either little of no share at all in the founders memories. For this reason the “memorial function” of the historiography now lost significance. In its place came more strictly scholarly aspirations.[4]:59-60

Through their publications, scholarly seminars, academic and cultural events, alongside an archive, the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem has been the leading venue for German-Jewish historiography and documentation in Israel. Its archives consist of a microfilm collection of Jewish newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as a collection of family papers, genealogical materials and community histories.


Chairpersons of Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem:

  • 1956-1979: Hans Tramer
  • 1981-1992: Jacob Katz
  • 1993-1994: Josef Walk
  • 1995-1997: Avraham Barkai
  • 1997-2003: Robert Liberles
  • 2003-2007: Zvi Bacharach
  • 2008-present: Shmuel Feiner

Leo Baeck Institute, London

The Leo Baeck Institute, London has published the LBI Year Book since its inception in 1956. The annual covers the cultural, economic, political, social and religious history of German Jews. In addition to the Year Book, it also produces monographs and the Schriftenreihe wissenschaftlicher Abhandlungen. In addition to its publishing activities, Leo Baeck Institute, London supports scholarships and holds lectures and conferences.

Digital collections


In 2012, Leo Baeck Institute, New York announced that it had digitized the majority of its archival holdings as well as large segments of its art and library collections. Among the over 3.5 million digital images available through the online catalog, known as DigiBaeck, include:

Internet Archive

Of note, Leo Baeck Institute, New York partnered with the Internet Archive, non-profit digital library that offers permanent storage of and free public access to digitized materials to complete the project.[13]

Freimann Collection

The Freimann Collection of books related to the Wissenschaft des Judentums (in English: Science of Judaism) is another important digitization project.[14] Working in coordination with Frankfurt University Library, the Leo Baeck Institute library located about 2,000 volumes in its collections that were missing from the Frankfurt Library’s collection of Judaica created by curator Aron Freimann in the 1920s and were able to reconstruct the collection. The project was funded by a joint grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG).[15][16]

Notable publications

  • Arendt, Hannah, Richard Winston, and Clara Winston. Liliane Weissberg. Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess. London: Leo Baeck Institute, 1957. Revised edition - Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-801-85587-0 OCLC 36485817
  • Meyer, Michael A., Michael Brenner, Avraham Barkai, Paul Mendes Flohr, ed. German-Jewish History in Modern Times, Vol. 1-4. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-231-07478-0 OCLC 34473360 English translation of Deutsch-jüdische Geschichte in der Neuzeit.
  • Meyer, Michael A., Mordekhai Broier, Mîk̲ā'ēl Greṣ, Michael Brenner, Steven M. Lowenstein, and Avraham Barḳai. Deutsch-jüdische Geschichte in der Neuzeit 1 1. München: Beck, 2000. ISBN 978-3-406-45941-2 OCLC 643081152

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^

Further reading

  • Strauss, Herbert A.. "Die Leo Baeck Institute und die Erforschung der deutsch-jüdischen Geschichte." Geschichte Und Gesellschaft. 9, no. 3: 1983. pp. 471-478. ISSN 0340-613X OCLC 5542897383
  • Nattermann, Ruth. Deutsch-jüdische Geschichtsschreibung nach der Shoah: die Gründungs- und Frühgeschichte des Leo Baeck Institute. Essen: Klartext, 2004. ISBN 978-3-898-61331-6 OCLC 56755370
  • Miron, Gai. From Memorial Community to Research Center = Mi-ḳehilat zikaron le-merkaz meḥḳar toldot Mekhon Leʼo Beḳ bi-Yerushalayim. Yerushalayim: Mekhon Leʼo Beḳ, 2005. ISBN 978-9-652-27201-0 OCLC 62099235
  • Hoffmann, Christhard, ed. Preserving the Legacy of German Jewry: A History of the Leo Baeck Institute, 1955-2005. (Schriftenreihe wissenschaftlicher Abhandlungen des Leo Baeck Instituts, Bd. 70.) Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008. ISBN 978-3-161-49668-4 OCLC 257584531

External links

  • Leo Baeck Institute, New York
  • Leo Baeck Institute, London
  • Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem
  • Freunde und Förderer des Leo Baeck Instituts e.V.
  • DigiBaeck - Digitized Collections Portal
  • Leo Baeck Institute (London) records Guide to the Leo Baeck Institute, London, records. AR 6682
  • at
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