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Leo Baeck
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Religious Figure
    (May 23, 1873-November 2, 1956)
    Born in Leszno (Lissa), Poland
    German rabbi, scholar, and a leader of Progressive Judaism
    Served as a rabbi in Oppeln, Düsseldorf, and Berlin
    Taught at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, and later Hebrew University
    Best known as the author of 'The Essence of Judaism' and 'This People of Israel'
    President of the North Western Reform Synagogue in Temple Fortune
    President of the Reich's Deputation of the German Jews organization for united German Jewry (1933-38)
    Deported by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt concentration camp (January 27, 1943) and remainrd there until the end of WWII
    Chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism
    Founder and President of the Leo Baeck Institute (1955)
    His 'Essence of Judaism' was published in response to Adolf von Harnack's 'Essence of Christianity.'
    His book takes a controversial existentialist, neo-Kantian view on Judaism.
    He is often confused with Martin Buber, whose views on Judaism were the polar opposite of his own.
    His celebrity was used by the Nazis as a tool to control the Jewish community. (He was made President of the Nazis' Association of the Jews in Germany.)
    He inexplicably paid his electric bill before being transported to Theresidenstadt.
    He was the honorary head of the controversial 'prominents' in the Council of Jewish Elders (or 'the Judenrate') at Theresienstadt. Among the Council's duties was officiating over the deportation of their fellow Jews to the Death Camps.
    He remains a polarizing figure in Rabbinical circles for arguing that God was to blame for the Holocaust and that to worship him without questioning his silence was an insult to Jewish victims.
    He was a chaplain in the German Imperial Army.
    He wrote 'This People of Israel' during his imprisonment at Theresienstadt.
    He was bullied into cooperating with the Nazis.
    He was attacked by Hannah Arendt as a passive self-hating Jew.
    He is the namesake for Leo Baeck Rabbinical College in London, where he spent his final days.
    He is the basis for the Prof. Aaron Jastrow character in Herman Wouk's 'Winds of War and 'War and Remembrance.'
    He refused all offers from American/British diplomats to help him escape Nazi Germany, unwilling to abandon the Jewish community.
    His influence in the Council protected his family from deportation to the death camps, but his three sisters died in the ghetto anyway.
    His Institute and its 'Leo Baeck Yearbook' are enduring monuments to the last surviving bastions of German Jewry and its culture.
    He helped to facilitate a dialogue between Jews and Christians of Jewish lineage in the camps.
    His lectures and religious teachings during his confinement have been credited with strengthening many prisoners' will to live.
    He vocally advocated on behalf of the German Jewish community until the Kristallnacht pogram in November of 1938, when it was no longer feasible.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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