Acting Jewish: Between Identity and Attire


A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.

The lecture series investigates the complex nature of what it means to act or appear Jewish and for whom this appearance is important. Examples are drawn from a wide range of performative settings: on stage, on screen, in daily life. Under which conditions do certain elements of fashion and attire appear as “Jewish”? How do Jews consciously showcase or hide their identity by way of ‘acting’ and dressing in certain ways? And how were these elements conceptualised in the wider discourse: as ‘natural’- self-expressions of an ethnical identity, as attire communicating a social role, or ‘prejudiced’ – as a ’costume’ hiding the wearer’s true identity?

This season’s speakers were: 


Thursday, 5th December 2019, 6.30 pm 

Prof Henry Bial – Jewish on Demand: Representation and Difference in the Streaming Era  


Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 6.30 pm 

Prof Kerry Wallach – ‘Coming out’ as Jewish in Weimar Germany 


Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 6.30 pm 

Ms Adi Heyman – The Big Cover Up: Modest Fashion 


Thursday, 8th October 2020, 6.30 pm – Online event 

Mr Paul Herzberg – Acting Jewish: Perception and Reality   

Originally scheduled for Thursday, 23rd April 2020 and postponed due to Covid-19 lockdown.


Thursday, 19th November 2020, 6.30 pm – Online event 

Ms Svenja Bethke – How to dress in Eretz Israel? Clothing, Fashion and Nation Building, 1880s – 1948  

Originally scheduled for Thursday, 21st May 2020 and postponed due to Covid-19 lockdown.  


Admission is free but we would appreciate if you could inform us in advance of your intention to attend by contacting the Leo Baeck Institute, London on, thus enabling us to prepare for participant numbers and management. 


For more information on this season’s lecture series please refer to the leaflet here.