Baeck

Baeck

Baeck, Leo, 1873-1956, German rabbi and scholar. He studied at the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau and then at the liberal Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, also attending the universities of Breslau and Berlin; at Berlin he studied philosophy under Wilhelm Dilthey. He held positions as rabbi in Oppeln (1897-1907), Düsseldorf (1907-12), and Berlin (1912-43). In 1943 he was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. After being liberated in 1945, he moved to London, becoming president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism; he also taught occasionally at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Baeck's works in English translation include The Essence of Judaism (1905, tr. 1936), The Pharisees and Other Essays (1947), and Judaism and Christianity (1958). In This People Israel (1955, tr. 1965), he propounded his belief in the eternal dialectical polarity between "mystery" and "command," the latter being the divine instructions that give concrete expression to the "mystery" in terms of man's obligations to others, which he defined as piety.

See A. H. Friedlander, Leo Baeck, Teacher of Theresienstadt (1968).

(born May 23, 1873, Lissa, Posen, Prussia—died Nov. 2, 1956, London, Eng.) Prussian-Polish rabbi, spiritual leader of German Jewry during the Nazi period. After earning his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Berlin, he served as a rabbi in Silesia, Düsseldorf, and Berlin, becoming the leading liberal Jewish religious thinker of his time. He synthesized Neo-Kantianism and rabbinic ethics in The Essence of Judaism (1905) and considered the Christian gospels as rabbinic literature in The Gospel as a Document of Jewish Religious History (1938). He negotiated with the Nazis to buy time for the German Jews; finally arrested, he was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he wrote and lectured on Plato and Immanuel Kant. Liberated in 1945 on the day before he was to be executed, he settled in England.

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(born May 23, 1873, Lissa, Posen, Prussia—died Nov. 2, 1956, London, Eng.) Prussian-Polish rabbi, spiritual leader of German Jewry during the Nazi period. After earning his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Berlin, he served as a rabbi in Silesia, Düsseldorf, and Berlin, becoming the leading liberal Jewish religious thinker of his time. He synthesized Neo-Kantianism and rabbinic ethics in The Essence of Judaism (1905) and considered the Christian gospels as rabbinic literature in The Gospel as a Document of Jewish Religious History (1938). He negotiated with the Nazis to buy time for the German Jews; finally arrested, he was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he wrote and lectured on Plato and Immanuel Kant. Liberated in 1945 on the day before he was to be executed, he settled in England.

Learn more about Baeck, Leo with a free trial on Britannica.com.

The Leo-Baeck-Medal has been awarded since 1978 by the Leo Baeck Institut of New York and is given for special efforts in German-Jewish reconciliation.

The Leo-Baeck-Preis of the Zentralrats der Juden in Deutschland ("Central Council of Jews in Germany") is to be distinguished of the medal.

Bearers of Leo-Baeck-Medal

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