November 2006 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Leo Baeck (1873 – 1956), one of the most renowned exponents of German-Jewish cultural and philosophical traditions. Throughout his life, Leo Baeck made it his mission to help Judaism evolve in a manner that respected tradition yet allowed for the realities of the modern world. In the process, he worked tirelessly to promote the education of young rabbis at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Higher Institute for the Science of Judaism) in Berlin and to foster inter-faith dialogue with Christianity, Islam, and other religions.
The declared purpose of the Leo Baeck Foundation, founded in Baeck’s honor on the 50th anniversary of his death, is to support the Jewish community in Europe by promoting Jewish religious congregations, particularly their efforts to pass on Jewish religious learning and tradition to coming generations. Another key focus of the Foundation is the exploration of fresh angles for constructive inter-faith dialogue.
The Leo Baeck Foundation is predominately operational in character, initiating and implementing its own projects in Jewish education and theology.
In supporting rabbinical students, the Leo Baeck Foundation seeks to continue the original, guiding vision of the Natalie and Leo Baeck-Stiftung, which was founded in 1937 by the Jewish Congregation of Berlin in recognition of Dr. Baeck’s 25 years of rabbinical service.
The foundation maintains its tax-exempt status through raising funds on behalf of the Abraham Geiger College, the Zacharias Frankel College at the University of Potsdam, and the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Scholarship Fund. In addition, it also bestows grants and scholarships and promotes inter-faith projects and activities.
“I am impressed with the creation of the “Leo Baeck Foundation” dedicated to supporting rabbinical training in Germany and interfaith work. I hope your endeavors meet with success. My husband and I look forward to hearing more about the progress of the Leo Baeck Foundation.”
Marianne C. Dreyfus (granddaughter of Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck)