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“Transcending Tradition” - Exhibition Opening

15 November 2011

Avinoam Armoni, Dr. Cornelia Quennet-Thielen, Dr. Klaus Kinkel“Transcending Tradition” Opening of Exhibition on German Jewish Mathematicians

A distinguished crowd of diplomats and leading figures in the world of mathematics and German history gathered for the impressive opening of the new exhibition, “Transcending Tradition”, at Beit Hatfutsot. This exhibition, which presents the life and works of Jewish mathematicians in Germany over a period of 150 years, was acclaimed by academics, scholars, and governmental leaders from both Israel and Germany.

“The mathematical culture of Wilhelmine Germany and the Weimar Republic would be inconceivable without the active contribution by Jewish mathematicians,” said Prof. Moritz Epple, Head of the International Project, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, at the opening of the exhibition.

"Transcending Tradition" explores the works, lives and activities of Jewish mathematicians in German-speaking countries during the period between the legal and political emancipation of the Jews in the 19th century and their persecution in Nazi Germany. It highlights the important role Jewish mathematicians played in all areas of mathematical culture during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic, and recalls their emigration, flight or death after 1933.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany is the main sponsor of the event. Cornelia Quennet-Thielen, State Secretary of this ministry addressed the crowd, emphasizing “the importance of Beit Hatfutsot for Israel’s relationship with Germany and for cultural exchange.”   She was accompanied by Werner Wnendt, Ambassador, Director General for Culture and Communication, and Peter Prugel, Minister, DHM.

Avinoam Armoni, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot, thanked the government of Germany for the exhibition and noted the long-standing partnership between Germany with Beit Hatfutsot.

Dr. Klaus Kinkel, who served as German’s Foreign Minister in the 1990s, represented his foundation, Deutsche Telekom Stiftung, another major exhibition sponsor, and had a strong hand in bringing the exhibition to Israel.

MK Silvan Shalom, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development, welcomed the German delegation and dignitaries, and expressed a vision for continued cultural partnership and collaboration between the two nations.

A very special violin was used during the musical performance. Prof. Moritz Epple told the story behind the instrument: The string quartet played the violin of George Pick, a German mathematician and musician and close friend of Albert Einstein who was murdered in 1942 in Theresienstadt. Before he died, Pick gave his violin to his friend – the grandfather of Dr. Ruti Unger of Frankfurt University, the Project Manager of the exhibition.  The crowd was incredibly moved to listen to the musicians’ rendition on the violin of Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet of one of the great German mathematicians who managed to keep his legacy alive through this special violin, and was now being remembered by the granddaughter of his surviving friend, here at Beit Hatfutsot. It was an extraordinary moment.

Transcending Tradition will be open at Beit Hatfutsot until December 14.


Speakers at the opening:


Dr. Cornelia Quennet-Thielen


Enia Kupfer, Avinoam Armoni, Prof. Moritz Epple, Ambassador Werner Wnendt,

Dr. Klaus Kinkel, Peter Prügel, Dr. Jutta Illichmann


 Dr. Christian Bär

15 November 2011