Leo Baeck Summer University 2019 - Jewish Berlin - Past and Present

We still have a few free places and scholarships to offer! The deadline for applications has been postponed to April 15, 2019!

Due to its geographical location and its unsteady history, Berlin has always been a place of encounter, emigration, migration, and exile. Here is where different European traditions of Judaism came together and a cultural definition of ‘Jewish belonging’ was elaborated in the 18th century, during the Haskala. At that time, a new form of Jewish religiosity arose in Berlin and Wroclaw, finding expression in Reform Judaism and spreading all over the world. The diffusion started as a consequence of emigration but intensified when Jews had to escape from National Socialist Germany. Rooted in the Berlin-based Wissenschaft des Judentums and its innovative approach to Judaism, Jewish Studies developed, in the second half of the 20th century, into an academic field in its own right.

Today, in the early 21st century, Berlin has once again become a hub for different forms of Judaism. The small Jewish communities after 1945 grew dramatically after Russian-Jewish immigration in the late 1970s, and even more after German unification in 1989. Moreover, since the early 1990s more and more young Israelis have been living in Berlin: some remain only temporarily, others intend to stay. Today, just like in the past, Jewish life in Berlin is characterized by many ways of understanding ‘Jewishness’.

The Leo Baeck Summer School intends to address this variety of facets both in historical perspective and in modern life. Particular attention will be given to such topics as Haskala, Wissenschaft des Judentums, and the emergence of Jewish history, literature and philosophy. Another important theme will be the major role that Jews played in the modernization of non-Jewish society, in industry and finance as well as in science and the arts. The city’s ferment turned out to be a motor for the modernization of Judaism. Under the influence of Jews on their way to modernity, sexual sciences flourished in Berlin, and it was here that the first psychoanalytical institute was founded (even before Vienna) – to name but a few examples. We will focus on Jewish cultural life during the Weimar era and the Nazi period, as well as on Jewish communities during the decades of the ‘two Germanies’ (1945–1990). Finally, also the renaissance Jewish life experienced after the reunification of Germany in 1989 will be explored.

The interdisciplinary Leo Baeck Summer University aims at doctoral students from all disciplines who deal with aspects of Jewish Berlin in their dissertations. The focus will be on applying theoretical approaches and research results to the fields of Jewish history, literature, and culture in Berlin. Along with intensive workshops, participating students are required to present and discuss their own research projects. The final program will be developed in accordance with the participants’ research topics. Guest lecturers will address and comment them in one-day workshops. The summer school will be conducted in English.

The Leo Baeck Summer University 2019 on “Jewish Berlin – Past and Present” intends to lay the foundation for an international network of doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers in the interdisciplinary field of Jewish studies.


Academic director is Rainer Kampling. He will be supported by an international team of experts in German-Jewish history, philosophy, literature, and culture: Liliana Ruth Feierstein, Michael A. Meyer, Jascha Nemtsov, Kerstin Schoor, Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Irmela von der Lühe, Christian Wiese, and others.

Application requirements:

The program is open to doctoral students, postdocs, and in exceptional cases master program students shortly before completion of their degree. Applicants are expected to complete a project in the field of Jewish studies focusing on Berlin.

Application documents:

Please send your application documents as a pdf-file to info@lbsu.de by April 15, 2019. Incomplete applications will not be considered:

- Completed application form: www.selma-stern-zentrum.de/projekte/lbsu - Copy of passport / identity card

- Brief description of project proposal (max. 2 pages) – please provide a maximum of ten book titles in your bibliography

- Academic résumé (maximum 2 pages, including a list of publications) - Letter of recommendation by a university instructor (should be sent separately as a pdf-file to info@lbsu.de by April 15, 2019)

Participation fee:

300.00 euros (scholarships available)


    Deadline for applications: April 15, 2019

    Decisions will be announced by April 30, 2019

    Submission of a discussion paper: June 1, 2019

    Summer school dates: July 1–12, 2019

In cooperation with:

Freie Universität Berlin and Agentur für Bildung – Geschichte, Politik und Medien e.V.