Leo Baeck Institute New York

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Leo Baeck Institute
The Leo Baeck Institute in the Center for Jewish History on 16th Street in Manhattan
The Leo Baeck Institute in the Center for Jewish History on 16th Street in Manhattan
Leo Baeck Institute New York is located in Manhattan
Leo Baeck Institute New York
Location within New York City
Established 1955
Location 15 West 16th Street
New York City, New York
Coordinates 40°44′17″N 73°59′38″W / 40.738056°N 73.993889°W / 40.738056; -73.993889Coordinates: 40°44′17″N 73°59′38″W / 40.738056°N 73.993889°W / 40.738056; -73.993889
Director Dr. William Weitzer, Executive Director
President Dr. Ronald B. Sobel
Public transit access Subway:
14th Street – Union Square
Website www.lbi.org

The Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) is a founding partner of the Center for Jewish History and a research library and archive in New York that contains the most significant collection of source material relating to the history of German-speaking Jewry, from its origins to Holocaust History, and continuing to the present day.[1]

Leo Baeck Institute logo

History[edit]

The Leo Baeck Institute New York is one of three independent research centers founded by a group of German-speaking Jewish émigrés at a conference in Jerusalem in 1955. The other Leo Baeck Institutes are in Jerusalem and London, and the activities of all three are coordinated by the board of directors of Leo Baeck Institute International.[2]:38–45

Under its first Executive Director, Max Kreutzberger, Leo Baeck Institute New York quickly established itself as the Institute’s library and archive. The library collection began with books that had been looted from Jewish libraries and collectors and were recovered by Allied forces and restituted to Jewish libraries. Later in the 1950s, Kreutzberger and his staff began acquiring books and manuscripts from New York booksellers and solicited donations of the personal papers and libraries of German-Jewish émigrés in New York. By 1960, when Leo Baeck Institute moved into a townhouse at 129 E. 73rd St. in Manhattan, the collection included some 30,000 books, 250 unpublished memoirs, and extensive archives.[2]:142

Significant private donations secured in the first two decades of the Leo Baeck Institute's existence included the literary estates of Franz Rosenzweig, Constantin Brunner, Fritz Mauthner, and Joseph Roth.[2]:151

By the 1990s, Leo Baeck Institute New York’s Upper East Side townhouse could no longer efficiently or safely accommodate its collections, and LBI president Ismar Schorsch began discussions with other Jewish centers of scholarly research in New York aimed at a partnership in a shared facility. In 1993, Leo Baeck Institute, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Yeshiva University Museum, and the American Jewish Historical Society announced plans to jointly establish the Center for Jewish History in the former American Foundation for the Blind building on West 16th Street in Manhattan.[3] Leo Baeck Institute moved its administrative offices and collections to the Center for Jewish History in 2000.[4] Today, Leo Baeck Institute shares library infrastructure (storage, reading room, digital and conservation labs, and information systems) as well as programming and exhibition facilities with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Yeshiva University Museum, American Jewish Historical Society, and American Sephardi Federation.[5]

Presence in Germany[edit]

Under the leadership of Executive Directors Fred Grubel in the 1970s and Carol Kahn Strauss in the 1990s, Leo Baeck Institute New York deepened its ties with the Federal Republic of Germany and received increased direct financial support from the West German government and private sources in German such as publisher Axel Springer.[2]:144–147

Preliminary discussions about an official presence of Leo Baeck Institute New York began by the 1970s at the latest,[2]:163 and concrete plans for such a presence were first initiated by Michael Blumenthal proposal for the Leo Baeck Institute to establish a presence at the new Jewish Museum Berlin in 1998. In late 1999, the board of LBI International reached an agreement with the Jewish Museum Berlin to establish an office in the Museum and house microfilm copies of the Leo Baeck Institute archives there in order to provide easier access to the collections for researchers in Europe. In 2013, Leo Baeck Institute established an administrative office in Berlin.[6]

Components[edit]

The Leo Baeck Institute New York includes a library, an archive, an art collection, and an exhibition centre. Its offices and collections are housed in the Center for Jewish History, a centralized partnership with other Jewish organizations that share one location, with separate governing bodies and finances, but collocate resources. in New York City.[3]

  • Leo Baeck Institute’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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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

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.

Collections[edit]

Feuerbach-mädchenkopf, 1868, oil on canvass

The bulk of Leo Baeck Institute New York’s archives are the personal papers of German-speaking Jews. The Library has over 80,000 volumes.

In October 2012, Leo Baeck Institute New York announced that it had digitized nearly its entire archival holdings and large portion of its art collections and rare books as part of the DigiBaeck project.[9] The DigiBaeck digital collection portal includes nearly 75 percent of the Leo Baeck Institute's holdings, including archival materials, memoirs and manuscripts, art and objects, books and periodicals, photographs, and audio recordings.

Collection highlights[edit]

Moses Mendelssohn papers
  • First editions of Moses Mendelssohn and Heinrich Heine
  • Early 16th century writings, including Martin Luther, Sir Thomas More and Erasmus, as well as a comprehensive collection of periodicals published from the 18th to 20th centuries
  • Limited editions of twentieth-century artists’ portfolios and several illustrated eighteenth-century books on Jewish customs in the rare book collection

Digitization initiatives[edit]

List of notable people featured in the archive[edit]

Collection highlights[edit]

Moses Mendelssohn papers
  • First editions of Moses Mendelssohn and Heinrich Heine
  • Early 16th century writings, including Martin Luther, Sir Thomas More and Erasmus, as well as a comprehensive collection of periodicals published from the 18th to 20th centuries
  • Limited editions of twentieth-century artists’ portfolios and several illustrated eighteenth-century books on Jewish customs in the rare book collection

Digitization initiatives[edit]

Fellowships and seminars[edit]

In addition to the archival processes of acquiring, cataloguing and preserving, Leo Baeck Institute New York promotes study by sponsoring fellowships, holding seminars, and exhibits.

Leo Baeck Institute New Yorkannually presents The Leo Baeck Medal to individuals whose humanitarian work promotes tolerance, social justice. Some past recipients include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Dr. Mathias Dopfner, James D. Wolfensohn, Mr. Otto Schily, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Dr. Johannes Rau, and W. Michael Blumenthal.[13]

Exhibitions[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leo Baeck Institute; Folio Corporation (1999). Weltsch, Robert; Paucker, Arnold; Grenville, John, eds. Leo Baeck Institute Year Book. Volumes I-XL, 1956-1995 (CD-ROM) (in German and Yiddish). New York: Leo Baeck Institute. ISBN 978-1-571-81183-7. OCLC 54877908. Retrieved 23 July 2015. Online Resource
  2. ^ a b c d e Hoffmann, Christhard, ed. (2008). Preserving the Legacy of German Jewry: A History of the Leo Baeck Institute, 1955-2005. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-161-49668-4. OCLC 257584531.
  3. ^ a b Shepard, Richard F. (28 April 1997). "Archives of Jewish History, Now Under One Roof". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  4. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (26 October 2000). "A Museum Wing To Bear Witness To Jewish Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  5. ^ Wiener, Julie (24 October 2000). "New History Center Touted As Jewish 'library of Congress'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  6. ^ Kauschke, Detlef David (15 May 2014). "Leo-Baeck-Medaille für Joachim Gauck". Jüdische Allgemeine. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  7. ^ Kahn, Eve M. (5 August 2010). "Resurrecting Laurelton Hall: A Book Burning Debate". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  8. ^ Mecklenburg, Frank (Spring 2004). "Inventing a Discipline: The Leo Baeck Institute and German-Jewish Studies". Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Berman Jewish Policy Archive. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  9. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (9 October 2012). "Archive of Jewish Life in Central Europe is Going Online". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  10. ^ a b Dolnick, Sam (7 March 2011). "Jewish Texts Lost in War Are Surfacing in New York". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Funded Projects: Wissenschaft des Judentums: An International Digital Collection". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Judaism, Special collection 7.7 of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)". Frankfurt University Library. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  13. ^ "The Leo Baeck Medal". Leo Baeck Institute. Retrieved 24 June 2013.

External links[edit]