West German President Attends Maimonides Anniversary Meeting

A distinguished audience including high West German officials led by President Theodor Heuss participated last night, in the great parliamentary chamber of the State Legislature here, in ceremonies commemorating the 750th anniversary of the death of Moses Maimonides, noted Jewish Philosopher of the Middle Ages.

For the first time since its establishment in Germany, the Israel Purchasing Mission in Germany participated formally in an official event. The Mission was one of the inviting groups sponsoring the Maimonides memorial, others being the Delitzsch Institute of Jewish Studies – a Protestant theological institution – and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Among prominent Germans present, in addition to Dr. Heuss, were the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, three members of his Cabinet, the Speaker of the State Legislature, and well known theologians and scholars. The Israeli flag was displayed between the banners of Germany and the State.

The introductory address was delivered by Professor K.H. Rengstorf, a Protestant theologian who conceived the idea for this commemorative meeting. Dr. Rengstorf is a scholar who revived the Delitzsch Institute for Jewish Studies, at Muenster University. That Institute, founded in 1886 at Leipzig to enable Protestant theologians and missionaries to study Jewish subjects, was closed by the Gestapo during the Nazi regime.

The high point of the evening was the principal address by Dr. Leo Baeck, former spiritual head of Liberal Judaism in Germany, who flew here especially for this meeting from London. Dr. Baeck, who is 81, spent the war years in the There-sienstadt concentration camp. He stressed in his address the role of Maimonides as the philosophical “bridge builder” between Orient and Occident, tracing Maimonides’ influence upon modern thinking right down to the rise of the German labor movement in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

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