On behalf of the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme we would like to invite you to the International Conference
»Bund and Borders: German Jewish thinking between Faith and Power«
May 17 – May 19/2009
Jewish Museum Berlin
The conference describes the history of German Jewry in light of two principle ideas: the notion of a Bund between the Jewish people and God and the need to define this Bund (Hebrew: Brith) within geopolitical and social borders.
Traditionally, German Jews stood between two systems of ideas: the world of fun¬damental faith and religious commitment and the world of secular power in poli¬tics. Since the Haskala, the majority of German Jews was committed to the idea of a religious Bund that should be transformed into a strong notion of cultural identity between well-defined borders. They did so by integrating the tools of intellectual critique on the one hand, and of moderate politics, on the other. Many German Jews transferred the same intermediary forms they learned and practiced to the cultures they were emigrating to, most notably to the heart of the Jewish Yishuv and then the new Jewish state. Responsible for much of the activity among Israel’s cultural elite, German Jews reworked an intensive culture of mediation and moderation.
Ingrained in today’s tension between religious and secular segments in Israeli society is the notion that many of the early achievements were rescinded. As a result, a variety of voices have recently pleaded to return to a model of German-Jewish critique, one that dares to ask difficult questions but strives to find mod¬erate solutions. At the heart of this rediscovery lies a concept that immigrated with German Jews to Palestine; the supposedly utopian alternative to the Zionist idea of a Jewish State, or as Martin Buber called it, the »theopolitical«. In the background of this utopia lies a radical critique that was formulated by the late Prague circle in Jerusalem, in Jacob Taubes’s correspondence with Carl Schmitt, and in the current debate on the relation between religion and politics in Israel.
»Bund and Borders« relates to the ideas of key German Jewish scholars who formulated a language of dialogue and defined distinctions between state and relig¬ion, power and faith, operative language and its philosophy. With regard to these scholars the conference aims at defining a fruitful and promising relation be¬tween the notion of Bund, in its religious and political form, and borders, in its geo-political context, its social as well as methodological relevance.
The conference was initiated and shaped by Nitzan Lebovic and Mirjam Wenzel, two former Fellows of the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme. It is organized by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Berlin and supported by the Stiftung »Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft«.
18.00 Opening of the Conference
Greetings: Martin Salm (Stiftung »Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft«), Gerhard Teufel (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), Raphael Gross (Leo Baeck Institute London, Jewish Museum Frankfurt a.M., Fritz Bauer Institute)
Introduction: Mirjam Wenzel (Jewish Museum Berlin)
18:30–20:30 Evening Session: A German-Jewish Critique?
Presentations: Steven Aschheim (Hebrew Univ.), Amir Eshel (Stanford Univ.), Adi Gordon (Univ. of Wisconsin)
Chair and Commentator: Thomas Meyer (Simon Dubnow Institute Leipzig)
10.00–12.00 Morning Session: German-Jewish Intellectual Positions from Mystical Traditions to Radical Politics
Presentations: Martin Kavka (Florida State Univ.), Eugene Sheppard (Brandeis Univ.), Christian Wiese (Sussex Univ.)
Commentator: Udi Greenberg (Hebrew Univ.)
Chair: Cilly Kugelmann (Jewish Museum Berlin)
14.00–16.00 Afternoon Session I: A Jewish Political Theology?
Presentations: Vivian Liska (Univ. of Antwerp), Menachem Lorberbaum (Tel Aviv Univ.), Nitzan Lebovic (Tel Aviv Univ.)
Chair and Commentator: Martin Treml (Centre for Literary and Cultural Research, Berlin)
16.30–18.30 Afternoon Session II: The Impact of German Jews on Political Culture and Constitutional Issues in Israel
10.00–12.00: Workshops with Students I
1. Politics meets Halakhic and Chassidic traditions (with Menachem Lorber¬baum)
2. Carl Schmitt and Jacob Taubes (with Martin Treml)
14.00–16.00: Workshops with Students II
1. Ethical considerations and aesthetic forms (with Vivian Liska)
2. An Israeli Constitution? (with Mordechai Kremnitzer)
17.00–18.30: Round Table Discussion: The End of German-Jewish History?
Contributions: Steven Aschheim (Hebrew Univ), Martin Kavka (Florida State Univ.), Nitzan Lebovic (Tel Aviv Univ.),Vivian Liska (Univ. of Antwerp), Stefanie Schüler-Springorum (Hamburg Univ.), Mirjam Wenzel (Jewish Museum Berlin)
Chair: Raphael Gross (Leo Baeck Institute London, Jewish Museum Frankfurt a.M., Fritz Bauer Institute)
19.00: End of the Conference
Contact and Information
Conference Website: www.leo-baeck-fellows.de
For further information and registration please contact
Johannes Sabel (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)
Phone: +49/ 228 82096-288
Deadline for Conference Applications: May 10.
Jewish Museum Berlin
9-14 Lindenst., 10969 Berlin
Dr. Nitzan Lebovic
"Yad Hanadiv Fellow"
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