Of books and their places:
3F3A - drei Fragen, drei Antworten: Ursula Reuter, project leader and head of Germania Judaica, answers three questions of the Kölnische Gesellschaft für Christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit:
Ursula Reuter, project leader and head of Germania Judaica, chats on the programme „Neugier genügt – Redezeit“ auf WDR 5 with Ralph Erdenberger about Jewish libraries worldwide and of course about this blog.
In the programme „Schalom – jüdisches Leben heute“ on Deutschlandfunk Constanze Baumgart reported about the blog and its stories. (Scroll down to programme of the 11th June 2021)
The Jüdische Allgemeine reported about our project.
Press Release | 20.4.2021
On Books and their Places
– a blog presenting Jewish libraries worldwide
Cologne, 19 April 2021 The blog On Books and their Places has started. Every two weeks of Jubilee Year 2021 – Jewish Life in Germany we will present a different Jewish library from around the world – ranging from public municipal or Jewish community libraries, through world-famous historical collections, to internationally renowned academic institutes. The bilingual (German and English) blog is aimed at booklovers, those specially interested in Jewish culture, and anyone eager to encounter new cultural sites.
Jews are known as “the people of the book” and, almost universally, Jewish life has given rise to Jewish libraries. This phenomenon is rooted in religious learning, for which the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic commentaries were (and are) indispensable. Important manuscript collections, for example, date back to medieval communities and scholars, and every Jewish place of learning had its library. Moreover, the love of books and reading extended to secular culture. Even in times of great danger, as during the Shoa, Jews continued to collect books and build up libraries.
Libraries as mirrors of Jewish life
Presenting the blog, Ursula Reuter – director of Germania Judaica, Cologne’s specialist library for the history of German Jewry – observes: “Jewish libraries are storerooms of knowledge, meeting-places, sites of teaching and reflection. As mirrors of Jewish life they mediate unique knowledge of Judaism past and present.” They introduce themselves here in short texts, richly illustrated with images of their hidden treasures. Commenting on the blog concept, Reuter points out that “Jewish libraries – often small and easily overlooked by the public – are existentially threatened. Especially today they need publicity, networking, and above all visibility in the virtual dimension.”
Launched by Germania Judaica in cooperation with the Steinheim Institute for German-Jewish History at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the blog falls within the framework of #JLID Jubilee Year 2021 – Jewish Life in Germany. As such, it is funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.
Die Germania Judaica
In 1959 a group of dedicated Cologne citizens founded Germania Judaica with the intention of acquainting the public more closely with the history and culture of German Jewry. In doing so – as Heinrich Böll, one of the group, put it – they sought to combat the “ignorance that still today nourishes ancient prejudices.” Out of this initiative grew one of the world’s major specialist libraries on German-speaking Judaism. Germania Judaica cooperates with many similar institutions in Germany, Europe, Israel, the USA, and other countries. Today it is an integral part of Cologne City Library.
Das Salomon Ludwig Steinheim-Institut für deutsch-jüdische Geschichte e. V.
Founded in 1986, the Steinheim Institute in Essen takes its name from the Jewish physician, scholar, and philosopher of religion Salomon Ludwig Steinheim. As an affiliated institute of the University of Duisburg-Essen, its mission is to research the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry, and its competency extends to all matters within this ambit. The institute maintains close contact with Jewish institutions in Israel, the USA, and Europe.
Media contact partner
Dr. Constanze Baumgart
+49 178 32 72 040
»The Germania Judaica Library arose from the realization that public knowledge of the history of German Jewry is all too inadequate.«
Heinrich Böll (1959)
We blog for you
Dr. Ursula Reuter | Project Leader
Ursula studied history and Judaism in Heidelberg, New York, and Cologne and wrote her PhD (2002) on the German-Jewish social democrat Paul Singer. A former academic director of the Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute of German-Jewish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, and collaborating scholar of Heinrich Heine-University Düsseldorf and the City of Cologne National Socialist Documentation Center, Ursula was appointed head of Germania Judaica – Cologne’s library for the history of German Jewry – in 2018. As a freelance historian she had led several projects in connection with the application for the adoption of the so-called SchUM cities (the sites of the medieval Rhineland Jewish communities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz) onto the UNESCO World Heritage list. Ursula Reuter has also been active for many years in the work of Jawne Memorial and Educational Center in Cologne.
Dr. Constanze Baumgart | Managing Editor
A history graduate with a PhD on foreign policy in the Weimar Republic, Constanze worked for several years at the Federal Museum of Contemporary History in Bonn before developing her competencies as a communications consultant specialized in legal and crisis communication. As a journalist, Constanze Baumgart has focused on Jewish life and culture, past and present; she also works regularly for Deutschlandfunk (German Broadcasting Service).
Claudia Oly | Design
Claudia is a freelance design graduate working across the whole range of graphic services, from web and logo design, through corporate design and advertising media, to the design of flyers, books and banners, as well as events and exhibitions. Before going freelance, she had for more than ten years headed a well-known PR agency specialized in science communication. Her current clients include the Landschaftsverband Rheinland (Rhineland Regional Council) and the charitable organization “Brot für die Welt” (Bread for the World), as well as Jawne Memorial and Educational Center. For Jawne, Claudia Oly designed the exhibition (with accompanying media) “Gerettet – auf Zeit” (Saved – for the Time Being), a presentation of the 1938-1939 Kindertransports to Belgium.
Joseph Swann | Translator
Studied philosophy and theology in Lisbon, Rome, and Oxford, and German in Canterbury and London. Lecturer (retired) in English, University of Wuppertal, Germany. Has translated books and articles on philosophy, history and biography, art and architectural history, economic history, geography and literary criticism, among other things.
Expert in Jewish Studies
Director of Collections at the Leo Baeck Institute New York | Berlin
Deputy Director and Head of the Research Unit “Law” at the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow in Lepizig
Director of Publicity and Marketing, Tel Aviv Libraries
Researcher at the Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute in Essen where she specializes in epigraphy and memor books
Dr. Stefan Litt
Curator for general humanities and archivist
Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics
Dr. Franziska Krah
Jewish Museum Frankfurt, head of the museum library, archives and Frank Family Center
Research coordinator of the Salomon Steinheim Institute
Kerstin A. Paul
Senior librarian of the library at the Israelitische Cultusgemeinde Zurich (ICZ)
Curator at the Jewish Museum of Westphalia Dorsten
Dr. Kay Schweigmann-Greve
Chairperson of the Israel Jacobson Association, the governing body of the library
Lecturer (retired) in English, University of Wuppertal, Germany; author and translator of this blog
Curator of Ets Haim – Livraria Montezinos