Leo Baeck Institute

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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

LBI Jerusalem

LBI New York/Berlin

LBI London

The Leo Baeck Institute is a research institute with centres in New York, London and Jerusalem devoted to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry. The New York centre also has a branch housed in the Jewish Museum Berlin. Founded in 1955, the Institute is named in honor of Leo Baeck, the Rabbi who was the last leader of the Jewish Community under the Nazis.[1]

The Founding[edit]

Founding Conference May 30, 1955: Martin Buber, Ernst Simon and Shmuel Hugo Bergman.

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 Central-Verein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens and the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland.[2] Others had held positions with the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (formed under Leo Baecks direction and later renamed the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland).[3]

Board Meeting of the Jerusalem LBI on July 20, 1960. Left to right: Moshe Unna, Heinz Gerling, Shlomo Krolik, Dolf Michaelis, Curt David, Siegfried Moses, Schalom Adler-Rudel, Franz Meyer, Gershom Scholem, Max Nathan (person in the back), Schmuel Hugo Bergman, Josef Burg, Hans Tramer and Ernst Simon.

It was initially assumed that this project would take the form of a long-term historical project, preparing a comprehensive work on the history of German Jewry. With the expectation that this would not last more than a decade, institute members concentrated entirely on research projects and filling in the history of German Jewry from the Enlightenment to the Nazi seizure of power.


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]

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.

LBI Jerusalem Chairmen[edit]

  • Hans Tramer, the Institute’s first chairman and held this position from 1956 to 1979.
  • Jacob Katz, chairman from 1981 to 1992.
  • Josef Walk, chairman from 1993 to 1994.
  • Avraham Barkai, chairman from 1995 to 1997.
  • Robert Liberles, chairman from 1997 to 2003.
  • Zvi Bacharach, chairman from 2003 to 2007.
  • Shmuel Feiner, current chairman.


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, LBI London supports scholarships and holds lectures and conferences.

New York[edit]

The Leo Baeck Institute, New York in Manhattan comprises a library, archive, and exhibition centre.[1] Its offices and collections are housed in the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friedlander, Albert H. 1968. Leo Baeck: teacher of Theresienstadt. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  2. ^ Preserving the Legacy of German Jewry , page 100
  3. ^ Preserving the Legacy of German Jewry , page 62
  4. ^ Preserving the Legacy of German Jewry , page 59-60
  • Fred Grubel, 89, Who Headed a Jewish Research Institute, Michael T. Kaufman, The New York Times [2]
  • A Chancellor Visits with German Jews, Laurie Johnston, The New York Times [3]
  • Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, published by John A. S. Grenville and Raphael Gross, London 1956–1999 and New York 2000 ff., ISSN 0075-8744.
  • From Memorial Community to Research Center, Guy Miron, published by The Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem, Jerusalem 2005, (in Hebrew)ISBN 965-227-201-9
  • Deutsch-jüdische Geschichte in der Neuzeit, published by The Leo Baeck Institute, Michael A. Meyer and (coop.) Michael Brenner, München 1996-1997, ISBN 3-406-39705-0
  • Christhard Hoffmann (Publs.), 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, 2005, ISBN 3-16-148591-2.
  • Ruth Nattermann, Deutsch-jüdische Geschichtsschreibung nach der Shoah: die Gründungs- und Frühgeschichte des Leo Baeck Institute, Essen: Klartext, 2004, ISBN 3-89861-331-3.
  • Herbert A. Strauss, "Die Leo Baeck Institute und die Erforschung der deutsch-jüdischen Geschichte", in: Geschichte und Gesellschaft, Bd. 9 (1983), pp. 471–478.

External links[edit]