Research Practices of Jewish Scientists and Scholars in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Brighton, 4.-5. Oktober 2004

Leo Baeck Institute London
Centre for German Jewish Studies (University of Sussex)

There is a widely-held belief that most achievements in science and the humanities have little or no relationship to the characteristics of particular social groups. That is, scientific accomplishments are “impersonal.” Thus “Jewishness” does not affect any scientific or scholarly methods or practice. However, some facts appear to challenge this view: for instance above-average representation of Jews in the sciences and the humanities when compared to their numbers in the general population and their exceptionally strong contribution to particular disciplines. To give but one example: in the 1920s and 1930s the large number of Jewish biochemists studying the intermediate metabolism of sugar was quite disproportionate to their participation in other scientific fields. Similar phenomena can be identified in numerous other areas of intellectual inquiry and activity.
This workshop will examine the tensions created by these two apparently contradictory intuitions. The aim is to provide material on whether the “Jewishness” of scientists and scholars-that is Jewish traditions and/or social and psychological mechanisms that are specific to Jews-have any impact on questions concerning approaches to problem-solving, such as:
– Choice and development of themes and topics
– Range of research-guiding questions
– Types of scientific or scholarly practice
– Types of argument
– Relationship to other areas of research
– Institutional organisation
– Individual competence
– Attitudes towards application


Montag, 4. October 2004

Raphael Gross (Centre for German Jewish Studies, Sussex)
Welcome address

Ulrich Charpa (London)

Moritz Epple (Frankfurt)
An Unusual Career between Cultural and Mathematical Modernism: Felix Hausdorff, 1868-1942

Anthony Travis (Jerusalem)
The Cultural Foundation of Colorant Science and Technology, 1850-1920

Gabor Pallo (Budapest)
Antisemitism and the ‘Modernity’ of Jewish Scientists

Simon Baumberg (Leeds)
Some Jewish Biologists’ Views on Evolution

Ute Deichmann (London, Köln)
‘Jewish biochemistry’? Leonor Michaelis (1875-1949) and Emil Abderhalden (1877-1950) as Representatives of their Jewish and non-Jewish Peers in Germany

Emile G. L. Schrijver (Amsterdam)
What motivated Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907)? On the Research Agenda of the Father of Modern Jewish Bibliography

Ulrich Charpa (London)
Torah, Talmud, and Harry Bresslau’s Historical-philological Work

Dienstag, 5. October 2004

Nurit Kirsch (Tel Aviv)
Human Population Genetics in the Young State of Israel: Values, Themes and Biases

Yael Hashiloni-Dolev (Tel Aviv)
Genetic Diagnosis and the Effect of Religion: Comparison between Israel and Germany

Frank J. Leavitt (Beer Sheva)
Science and Religion in the Brain Death Controversy in Israel and Japan

Ute Deichmann
Concluding remarks

Closing general discussion