Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem
The Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) in Jerusalem engages in the research of German Judaism. Its intent, though, is not to lock itself up in a scientific ivory tower, but to seek an ongoing dialogue with Israeli society. With the purpose of supporting this dialogue, IrespectU has been financing an LBI internship for an Israeli student since 2016.
The first intern in this series, Mr. Gedalyahu Wittow, studied philosophy and cognitive science. He is convinced that much can generally be learned from the experiences of previous generations, and specifically from the outstanding German-Jewish intellectuals of the past. Resulting from his personal history, the concept of respectful social interaction with different streams of thought and ideology is very important to him. He grew up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish setting from which he has distanced himself due to his personal convictions. His own experiences of marginalization and rejection have sensitized him to this issue. Interns with a similar qualification followed on for a year at a time.
The LBI Jerusalem offers the interns a rich field of activity: Together with German volunteers they are working on an Austrian Heritage project, which is collecting interviews of Austrian Jews who emigrated to Palestine in the 1930s. This intercultural cooperation has also been very successful both in the library and in the archives. Furthermore, articles to be published in the social media are composed.
These interns have also been assigned to the cross-generational monthly Café “Dor Siach”. Themonthly meeting brings together members of various generations, Germans as well as Israelis, for an exchange on specific topics.
The LBI Jerusalem has existed since 1955 when it was established by a group of Jewish intellectuals and philosophers, including Martin Buber. It was named after Leo Baeck, the last liberal Rabbi of the historical Jewish community of Berlin, who also served as the first chairperson of the LBI. Beyond researching German Judaism, the institute has the objective to present the many facets of German-Jewish history to the Israeli public. Its focus is set on ideas and approaches which the spiritual and intellectual resources of German Judaism can offer and which are still relevant in Israeli society today. In this context, the LBI Jerusalem organizes conferences, seminars, lectures, and concerts, not only for academic experts, but also for the broad public. Leo Baeck Institutes also exist in New York, London and Berlin.
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