Anniversary year “1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany” goes international

Logo of the anniversary year on a photography of a young, smiling woman

Logo of the anniversary year “1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany”, © 2021 Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland

19.02.2021 - Article

The anniversary year “2021 – Jewish Life in Germany”, #2021JLID, begins on 21 February. The Federal Foreign Office will showcase the anniversary by means of a wide range of projects abroad, thereby raising awareness around the world of the long and significant tradition of Jewish life in Germany.

1700 years of Jewish history

The aim of the #2021JLID anniversary year is to commemorate the 1700 years of Jewish life in Germany and to portray it in all its facets. The historical starting point and point of reference is an edict from 11 December 321, in which Emperor Constantine permitted the appointment of Jews to positions in the curia and the city administration of Cologne. That is the oldest documentation still in existence of the presence of Jews north of the Alps.

The Federal Foreign Office and the German missions abroad plan to promote the anniversary throughout the world by means of a large number of projects. The aim is to demonstrate the long tradition of Jewish life in Germany as well as to look to the present and the future. Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement in this context in the Jüdische Allgemeine newspaper:

Our Jewish roots have an impact on all facets of our social interaction to this day. We call this to mind all too rarely. The anniversary year is a welcome opportunity to change this – not only within Germany but also much further afield.

Maas also emphasised, in view of the betrayal of all civilised values that was the Holocaust, that the fight against antisemitism was a central priority of Federal Foreign Office projects:

Our past places on us a responsibility for the present and the future. The responsibility to recognise and combat antisemitism. And the responsibility to stand up for tolerance, global‑mindedness, religious diversity and harmonious co-existence. This is another focus of our activities.

The Leo Baeck Institute’s Shared History Project

The Leo Baeck Institute in New York will introduce and provide information on one of a total of 58 objects and locations each week on the website www.sharedhistoryproject.org. All objects and locations have a close relationship to the whole spectrum of Jewish history in Germany and in German-speaking areas of Europe, ranging from an oil lamp from the 4th century depicting a menorah to the judicial robes of Hessian Prosecutor-General Fritz Bauer. The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the worldwide digital outreach of the project, which can also be viewed as an exhibition at the German Bundestag, with 100,000 euro.

New home for the Museum of German-Speaking Jewry in Israel

Jews in Israel of German origin are known as Yekkes. The Museum of German-Speaking Jewry, or Yekke Museum, documents their history and the ways in which they have shaped society, business, culture and politics in Israel. In the context of the anniversary year #2021JLID the Federal Foreign Office has earmarked 200,000 euro in 2021 to support the Museum’s move to the Haifa Center for German and European Studies of the University of Haifa as well as the Hecht Museum, which is also based there.

This will not only help safeguard the existence of the Museum in the long term but also support the academic examination and documentation of the turbulent history of Israel’s German-speaking population. A further aim is to attract new supporters for the Museum.

Diverse projects of the missions abroad

All German missions abroad had the opportunity to apply for additional funds to organise their own projects and events for #2021JLID. Submissions included a wide range of creative ideas for exhibitions, festivals and concerts, which are due to take place in the course of 2021. Funds will be used not least for projects in Latin America and predominantly Muslim countries.

The Berlin Jewish Hospital – an ambassador between continents

Together with the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation and the University of Potsdam, the German Embassy in Panama City will host an exhibition on the history of the Berlin Jewish Hospital, which is more than 250 years old. The history of the Berlin Jewish Hospital provides a vivid backdrop against which to recount Jewish history in general, not only in Berlin but throughout Germany. The exhibition traces the wide range of connections that the hospital has forged throughout the world. Possible connections with the large Jewish community in Panama are also to be explored.

All Jewish – the history of Jewish music at a historical Jewish location

With the programme All Jewish, guitar player Lucian Plessner takes a tour through Jewish music from the early Baroque to the present. The concert will conclude the Mahalla Festival in Istanbul in 2021 and is organised by the cultural association Diyalog Derneği in cooperation with the German Consulate General in Istanbul and the Schneidertempel in Istanbul.

The Schneidertempel is a former synagogue from the 19th century, when master craftspeople mainly from the tailoring industry moved from German-speaking areas to settle in Istanbul. Today the building, which is renowned for its acoustics, is a cultural centre in the historic district of Galata located on the European side of Istanbul.


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