Welcome to the LBI London

The Leo Baeck Institute London is devoted to the study of German-Jewish history and culture. The LBI is an independent charity and aims to preserve and research this history by organizing innovative research projects, Fellowship programmes, and public events. Through the lens of German-Jewish history, the Institute seeks to address some of the most topical and timely questions of our times.


Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series London, 2018/19


Seeing Jews in Art: Networks, Fantasies and Dreams

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

This season’s topic will explore the agency of Jews within the networks shaping visual culture. Spanning from the middle ages to the present, and across a range of different media, it will focus on the point of intersection of Art by Jews with Art about Jews and the complex interplay of Jewish reactions to their depiction in Western art and Gentile attitudes towards Jewish visual culture. How do Jews respond and attempt to re-shape their images, stereotyped by the majority societies surrounding them? How does Jewish material culture them? How does Jewish material culture influence Western visual culture, and how were Jews entangled with the art world?

For more information on the lecture series please refer to the leaflet here.

Dr Daniel Wildmann (Director, Leo Baeck Institute London) has pleasure in inviting you to the fourth lecture in the series:


Prof Richard I. Cohen

(Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

Moses Mendelssohn – The German-Jewish Icon of Modernity (1780s-2019)

6.30pm, 14 February 2019



Moses Mendelssohn has engaged artists of Jewish and non-Jewish origin from his lifetime until today. The lecture will show how, over this long period, Mendelssohn has been turned into the icon of German-Jewish modernity by being represented in a myriad of ways and techniques.

Richard I. Cohen is the academic director of the Israel Center of Research Excellence (ICore) for the Study of Cultures of Place in the Modern Jewish World. Formerly the Paulette and Claude Kelman Chair in French Jewry Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he has published widely on the history of Jews in western and central Europe and on the inter-relationship between art and society in the modern period. Among his publications: The Burden of Conscience. French-Jewish Leadership during the Holocaust; Jewish Icons. Art and Society in Modern Europe; co-curator and co-editor of From Court Jews to the Rothshilds: Art, Patronage, and Power, 1600-1800, and Le Juif Errant: Un témoin de temps. He recently edited and introduced Place in Modern Jewish Culture and Society [vol. 30 of Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Oxford University Press, New York].


Lectures will be held at the German Historical Institute London, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ and begin at 6.30pm.

Admission is free but places are strictly limited and must be reserved in advance by contacting the Leo Baeck Institute London (email info@leobaeck.co.uk or phone 020 7882 5690).

Underground: Holborn, Russell Square; Bus: 1, 7, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 59, 68, 91, 98, 134, 168, 171, 188, 242, 243, 521, X68

New Article by Dr Dana Smith, Former John A.S. Grenville PhD Studentship Holder

The LBI London would like to congratulate their alumna Dana Smith on the publication of her essay Female Musicians and “Jewish” Music in the Jewish Kulturbund in Bavaria, 1934–38  in the volume DREAMS OF GERMANY. Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to Dance Floor, edited by Prof Neil Gregor and Dr Thomas Irvine.

This volume brings together historians, musicologists, anthropologists, and cultural studies scholars to explore the various ways in which notions of ‘Germanness’ and ‘musicality’ have been sutured together in modern times. A generation ago scholars interested in exploring these themes would have headed straight for Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. This volume, by contrast, emphasizes that such stories are just as likely to be found in the basements of post-war Hamburg (where the Beatles played), or in the queer electronic dance music scene of contemporary Berlin, as they are in the symphony concert hall. The collection is thus an implicit plea for a more pluralized understanding of what constitutes ‘culture’ and where we might go to find it.

Dana Smith offers a pioneering study of German-Jewish women’s involvement in Jewish musical life under the conditions of Nazi persecution in her essay. Previous studies of German-Jewish cultural associations during the ‘Third Reich’ have offered an image of assimilated Jews seeking to affirm their ‘Germanness’ in the face of ever-intensifying persecution by stubbornly performing the works of the Austro-German canon. Smith, by contrast, shows that this is an image derived from the study of German-Jewish men, whose greater engagement with the wider public sphere rendered them more emotionally invested in the bourgeois world of the symphony concert hall than their female counterparts. German-Jewish women, Smith argues, had fewer such investments, making them more open to rediscovering the rich traditions of non-German Jewish musical heritage at an earlier stage in the 1930s. In amateur Jewish music-making circles, where women played a more prominent role, reconnecting with these powerful musical traditions formed an important element of the emotional and cultural preparation undertaken within Jewish communities for emigration. This powerful essay will be of interest to anyone interested in the dynamics of grassroots Zionism and German-Jewish exile stories during this period.


Dana wrote her PhD under the supervision of the LBI’s director, Daniel Wildmann. She was awarded the  John A.S. Grenville Studentship in Modern Jewish History and Culture in 2012 and has passed her viva in 2015. Her thesis “The Jewish Kulturbund in Bavaria, 1934-­‐1938” provides a fresh perspective on the only state-approved Jewish cultural organisation in Nazi Germany, and analyses the strategies of Jewish cultural self-representation under Nazism, as expressed (with a regional bent) in the Bavarian Kulturbund’s programme.



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Queen Mary, University of London
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Tel. +44 (0) 20 7882 5690/5689
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