Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University


Short Survey of the History of the Institution


The Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow was founded in 1995 as the »Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture« on the basis of a 1994 resolution of the Saxon state parliament. It has been connected to Leipzig University through a cooperative agreement since May 1996, becoming a formally attached research institute in January 2000. In 2018, the Dubnow Institute was accepted into the Leibniz Association.


The origins of the Dubnow Institute date back to the changes of 1989/90. Following preparatory discussions with the Jewish historian and Judaic scholar Ernst-Ludwig Ehrlich, the Catholic theologian Hanspeter Heinz, and the Israeli consul general Mordechai Levy, the Saxon State Ministry for Science and Art established a 13-member founding commission in 1995 made up of domestic and international experts. The commission appointed the Berlin-based historian Stefi Jersch-Wenzel as the founding director. The initial location of the institute was on the 22nd floor of a high-rise building on the Augustusplatz which belonged to Leipzig University at the time. Following the founding director’s three-year tenure, during which the institute’s library and a guest scholar program were established, the Leipzig-based church historian Günther Wartenberg took over the commissarial direction of the institute in 1998. In the fall of 1998, the institute moved together with its library into its new offices in Goldschmidtstraße 28 in Leipzig’s Graphisches Viertel.


In 1999, the historian Dan Diner was appointed director of the Dubnow Institute as well as professor of Jewish history and culture at Leipzig University. From 2001, he moreover held a professorship in modern European history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


The subsequent years were characterized by continuous expansion with regards to space and staffing. This development was sparked by the International Quality Network (IQN) »Jewish History in the Context of General Historical and Cultural Studies« funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from 2001 to 2004. This development continued from 2007 onwards with the launch of two large projects based at the Dubnow Institute: the Project »European Traditions – Encyclopedias of Jewish Cultures« (2007–2024) carried by the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig and the Project »Communicative Spaces of the European: Jewish Cultures of Knowledge beyond the National« (2007–2010) funded by the BMBF.


In late September 2014, Dan Diner retired after 15 years in office. Following a six-month interim period, during which the institute was headed by the deputy to the director Jörg Deventer, the historian Raphael Gross was appointed from 1 April 2015 as the new director of the Dubnow Institute and as professor of Jewish history and culture at Leipzig University. Since April 2017, the Dubnow Institute has been headed by the historian Yfaat Weiss, who is simultaneously professor of modern history, particularly Jewish history, at Leipzig University. Since 2008, she has moreover been professor of Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.