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The life and work of Leo Trepp has been documented in books, speeches, papers, pictures as well as in film and audio clips. A lot of it hasn’t been published yet. The new website will feature the entire work in a way that enables readers and viewers to easier understand and absorb it. Leo Trepp’s philosophy and thoughts should be an inspiration – for now, and for future generations.

Reimagining Rabbis


City of Oldenburg honors Leo Trepp with a bust

The Mayor of Oldenburg, Jürgen Krogmann, unveiled the sculpture, watched by citizens and visitors, some of them very moved. After all, the city not only paid tribute to its Honorary Citizen but to the last rabbi of the state, before the Nazis destroyed the Jewish community. The date for the unveiling in August 2017 was chosen intentionally and seems to be most appropriate; it was the 25th anniversary of Oldenburg’s new Jewish congregation. The ceremony, speeches, and addresses by officials proved the head of the congregation right who said: “We Jews are a visible and audible part of the city.” Please find more in this NWZ-Article: “Jüdische Gemeinde blüht seit 25 Jahren”

Third Leo Trepp Lecture at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco

Frances Dinkelspiel, a renowned author, and journalist was the speaker for the third Leo-Trepp Lecture on February 15, 2017. She had called her subject: “From the Rhine to the Bay – How Jews shaped the California wine business”. And her remarks underlined that the suggestion in the title did not exaggerate. Quite some Jews from the Rhineland who had been vintners and who had to flee their homeland during the Hitler time carried on with their professions when they came to the West coast. Others had come before already. Actually, Frances’ own great grandfather, Isaias Hellman, who came from Bavaria had become very successful in the business and owned a large wine estate. Frances spoke especially about California and Napa Valley, where Jewish wine makers left their marks. As it turned out they are still very good in what they are doing. The exquisite products vintners were pouring for the audience after the lecture was a testament to it. The lecture was sponsored by Gunda Trepp in honor of her late husband.

Third Leo Trepp Lecture at Boston University

One could hear a pin drop when David Ellenson, former president of Hebrew Union College and the director for Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, talked about the relevance and importance of German Jewish philosophers for Jews and Judaism in the United States. The lecture at the Elie Wiesel Center on March 15, 2016, had drawn a crowd. They listened with fascination as Ellenson explained that one cannot really understand Jewish thinking of today without knowing about and considering thinkers as Leopold Zunz, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Abraham Geiger or Zechariah Frankel. He had called his talk “How Germany designed modern Judaism – and what we can learn from it for today”. As a historian Professor Ellenson has specialized in German-Jewish Neo-Orthodoxy and has been dealing with the meaning and influence of German Jewry and Judaism throughout his life. With his publications on Jewish philosophy and ethics as well as modern Jewish history Dr. Ellenson gained worldwide reputation. Gunda Trepp pointed out that these subjects had been relevant for her late husband through his entire life. Growing up in a neo-Orthodox family in Mainz he wrote extensively about the philosophy of Samson Raphael Hirsch und other German-Jewish thinkers and taught their philosophies and ethics to students and in his books. Ellenson emphasized that thinkers and teachers like Trepp were shaped by the strong belief that religion had to combine profound knowledge about the own culture with an openness towards the surrounding culture and concern for the common welfare. “It’s almost impossible to find people like Dr. Trepp who had a deep knowledge and understanding not only of his own religion but a profound literacy. He was one of the last German-Jewish thinkers”, Ellenson said. Before Professor Ellenson began his lecture Gunda Trepp had presented the Elie Wiesel Center with a Torah scroll that her late husband had brought out of Germany. To Leo Trepp the scroll was a living proof that Judaism will carry on. So it seems fitting that BU-students will learn with it and that the Hillel House next door will be using it for holiday services. Rabbi Kevin Hale, a Sofer (Torah scribe) had repaired some letters and declared the Sefer Torah to be kosher. The scroll is being stored in a special ark that the artist John Powell created. The music for the program was taken from a CD that Professor Trepp had produced himself. People listened to pieces of the liturgical music of the congregation in Mainz, the Nigune Magenze that, compliant with an order by the Maharil had never been changed since the Middle Ages and that had only been transferred orally. Since it hadn’t been written down, Dr. Trepp in his last years was the only person to remember the melodies. In a two-years effort they were put into notes and finally two CDs with a booklet, published by Schott. If you want to know more about the event or listen to the fascinating lecture by Professor Ellenson, please visit the Website of the Elie Wiesel Center.

Second Leo Trepp Lecture 2016 at Emanu-El in San Francisco

Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, a modern Orthodox rabbi, talked about the responsibilities and challenges at this time for especially young Jews, and how Judaism could help them to find some guidance. The title of his talk at Congregation Emanu-El was, “Gay Rights and Minimum Wage: Torah Cares, And So Should We – An Orthodox Call for Social Justice”. According to Rabbi Yanklowitz there are two movements on the rise, and both might harm Judaism; the tendency to think in tribal terms on the ultra-Orthodox side and the whateverism on side of Reform. Dr. Yanklowitz emphasized that Torah needs to be studied thoroughly but then also being acted on. Doing so, he said, Torah would become and remain relevant to young Jews. In this sense Torah needs to be the benchmark for the pursuit of social justice and peace. As a rabbi Dr. Yanklowitz has served in different congregations. In 2007 he founded Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox network for Social Justice. The organization has been honored as one of the most innovative Jewish non-profit entities. Rabbi Yanklowitz is also the founder and head of the Shamayim V’Aretz Institute, a center for spirituality.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

Second Leo Trepp Lecture at Boston University 

The second Leo Trepp Lecture took place at the Hillel House at Boston University in March 2015. Renowned rabbi and philosopher Neil Gillman talked about his personal belief and the tensions that belief sometimes creates. Rabbi Gillman is one of the leaders of the American Conservative Movement. He is Professor Emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York where he has taught for many years. Dr. Gillman is the author of several books and essays.

Leo Trepp Lecture Boston 2015 (PDF)


Leo Trepp Square in Mainz

The Leo Trepp Square in Mainz will soon be a haven of tranquility and calm. The city of Mainz is going to reconstruct the place this spring, said Marianne Grosse, head of the city’s construction and building department. The square neighbors the Schloss Gymnasium, where Trepp went to school while growing up in Mainz. He revisited the school and spoke to the students on several occasions. “He is still very much among us”, says the Gymnasium’s principal, Brigitte Wonneberger. Trepp, his life and philosophy are the subject of an annual class workshop for the students. One quote of his speech in celebration of the school’s 150th anniversary should be the vision of the school, says Wonneberger. “I hope that our Gymnasium will always be a school, which is sublime in knowledge, will set an example for brotherhood and I hope, it will be a school, in which religion doesn’t separate the people but connects them, a school of dialogue, a workshop for peace and a stronghold of freedom with openness towards the entire world.”

Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz


S.F.-based diplomats address ‘new’ anti-Semitism in Europe 

Leo Trepp has been fighting anti-Semitism his entire life. In this spirit Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco arranged a panel discussion on the “New anti-Semitism in Europe“. The event on October 28th, 2014, drew 200 people. Six Consuls General from different countries discussed reasons for the European anti-Semitism and reflected about measures against it. Find the report about the panel discussion here.

Jweekly: S.F.-based diplomats address ‘new’ anti-Semitism in Europe

Broadcasting stations about the audio book

In Südwestrundfunk Gunda Trepp explains why she happily dedicated time and effort to accomplish this work.

Link to the SWR Mediathek

Deutschlandfunk, which airs nationwide, is focusing on the anti-Semitism Leo Trepp had to deal with time after time. It was anti-Semitism in the military, although officially gone, which prevented Trepp’s father of having a career as an army officer.

Hessischer Rundfunk introduces its listeners to the book during its weekly literature program.

Leo Trepp Audiobook

In June 2014 the Paul Lazarus Foundation published the memoirs of Leo Trepp in an audiobook. The publication is part of the foundation’s audiobook series ‚Witnesses to a Time’. The book is based on talks Trepp held with his wife, Gunda. The conversations were recorded by a sound editor and then edited by the foundation. The booklet was written by Gunda Trepp. It outlines the historical facts and the Trepp family history. (in German)

„Tzedek, tzedek Tirdof – Der Gerechtigkeit, der Gerechtigkeit sollst du nachjagen“

ISBN 978-3-942902-09-0

19,50 €

You can order the book with two CDs at the foundation. The price is 19.50 Euro (26.50 Dollar). Paul Lazarus Stiftung · Spiegelgasse 9 · 65183 Wiesbaden Telefon: 06 11 – 94 58 92 51-0 · E-Mail:

Paul Lazarus Stiftung (in German):

Leo Trepp Lectures

In February 2014 Susannah Heschel, who holds the Eli Black Professorship in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, spoke at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco in honor of Rabbi Leo Trepp. The room was packed. The title of her speech: “Redefining 21st Century Jewish Identity – Can we be morally grand and spiritually audacious?“ The event aroused a lot of interest. Heschel is a renowned researcher and a well known feminist. She is known for her work on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries and on Jewish-Muslim relations. She is also the daughter of Abraham Heschel, the prominent rabbi and philosopher, still beloved by many American Jews. Trepp and Abraham Heschel met in Berlin, became friends and would leisurely walk “Unter den Linden” on Shabbat afternoons to discuss Judaism. Heschel’s daughter seemed to be the perfect fit for this evening in honor of Leo Trepp. Susannah Heschel in her remarks referred to her father and Trepp to illustrate how scholars can be both: Devoted to Tora and Talmud and simultaneously concerned with contemporary social issues.

You will find more information here: Program Heschel

Listen to excerpts of the program recording here:

A week after the event, on March 4, what would have been Rabbi Trepp’s 101st birthday, Dr. Heschel gave the Inaugural Lecture of the annual Rabbi Leo Trepp Lecture series at Boston University. Organized by the Rabbi Leo Trepp Lecture Fund and the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, the lecture was titled: „Joy and Obligation: The Legacies of Leo Trepp and A.J. Heschel“. Gunda Trepp explained some of the attitudes and the philosophy of Rabbi Trepp. While he was raised in a neo-orthodox household and got his Smicha at the Orthodox seminary in Berlin, Trepp realized that Judaism can only remain meaningful through active engagement, sustained devotion and progressive change. He regularly went back to Germany to educate the non-Jewish public about Judaism. He was convinced that information and knowledge about Judaism and the Jews was the only way to prevent new anti-Semitism. Unlike Trepp Abraham Heschel would not want to return to Germany for reasons his daughter talked about. In addition to explaining Abraham Heschel’s background Susannah Heschel illustrated how the Jewish texts, the Torah and especially the Prophets had shaped her father’s stance toward social justice. He engaged himself in the Civil Rights movement, was vehemently opposed to the war in Vietnam, and promoted relations between Jews and Christians. His philosophy became part of modern Jewish-American thinking. Throughout his life Leo Trepp felt connected with Boston. He first came here when he had emigrated from Germany. Trepp held rabbinates in nearby towns and studied at Harvard. He found friends and mentors in the city. Following the speeches, Gunda Trepp presented a Torah scroll to a scribe. The Sofer will estimate the value and if necessary repair the scroll. Rabbi Trepp had managed to get the Torah out of Germany when he left. Subsequently the scroll will be consigned to the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies. It will be used by students of the Center and when in need by the students of Boston University’s Hillel House.

The Elie Wiesel Center documented the event.

About The Role Of The Woman – Unpublished Essay

In February 2013,  Kohlhammer Publishing House released a Collection of Essays written by Rabbi Leo Trepp between 1945 and 2010, revised and partly translated by his wife, Gunda Trepp. There is a great number of interesting essays that could not appear in the essay collection due to lac of space. We will present some of these unpublished essays on this website in the coming months.

The first essay deals with the role of women in Judaism. Trepp wrote this discussion paper, reflecting on the Orthodox perspective on the role of women in Jewry for the Swiss magazine “Tradition und Erneuerung” (“Tradition and Renewal”) in 1977. This thoughts show that according to the Halacha – the Jewish law of religion – women could have much more rights within Jewry than they are currently – with reference to the Halacha – assuming.

You can read the full essay online here (in German) or download the PDF-Version of the  essay (in German).

The Bridge Builder Leo Trepp – Honors on his 100th Birthday

The City of Oldenburg invited around 150 guests, amongst them international guests like Leo Trepp’s grandson and close family friends, to honor Rabbi Leo Trepp’s 100th birthday. At PFL Cultural Centre, speakers like Lower Saxony’s Rabbi Jonah Sievers and Dr. Johannes Gerster from the board of the Israel Foundation stressed Trepp’s role as a bridge builder between Jews and  Christians and fighter against anti-Semitism and racism after World War II. “Those who knew Leo Trepp know that Oldenburg would be a different City without him”, said Mayor Gerd Schwandner, before solemnly opening the new Leo-Trepp-Straße in the vicinity of the Oldenburg Synagogue and the Leo-Trepp-Lehrhaus.

Read an article about the ceremony and the street naming here.

Read the interview “Offenheit und Dialog” (“Openness and Dialogue”) of Nordwestzeitung, which was conducted after the Honorary Ceremony with Gunda Trepp, here.

Solem Naming of Leo-Trepp-Straße, a commentary from NWZ-TV

The Jüdische Allgemeine (Jewish Weekly) also reported on Rabbi Trepp’s 100th birthday and the naming of the Leo-Trepp-Street. Read the full article which sees the new street as a reminder forTrepp’s strength of integration and dialogue here.

Honorary Act celebrating Leo Trepp’s 100th birthday 

On the occasion of celebrating Rabbi Leo Trepp’s 100th birthday on March 4th, 2013, the City of Oldenburg will host a ceremonial act this coming Sunday, March 3rd, 2013. Dr. Johannes Gerster will give an honorary speech and Prof. Michael Daxner will lecture on Trepp’s work on the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Furthermore, the naming of the Leo-Trepp-Straße will be celebrated.

Find an announcement of the Ceremonial Act from Nordwestzeitung (NWZ)  here.

Lecture at the Alte Synagoge Mainz-Weisenau

On the occasion of Rabbi Leo Trepp’s 100th birthday, the booster club of the Alte Synagoge Mainz-Weisenau is hosting a lecture and book release of “Lebendiges Judentum – Essays aus den Jahren 1943 bis 2010″ on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. The collection of essays and speeches was published at the Kohlhammer publishing house in February.  In it, Trepp deals with Jewish thinkers like Samson Raphael Hirsch, Franz Rosenzweig and Hermann Cohen as well as current issues of Jewry. He reflects on the relationship between Jews and Germans after the Shoa. Very early after World War II, Trepp engaged in the question on which basis there could be dialogue between Jews and Christians. The focus throughout the book lies on Judaism – a religion which is constantly changing and still evolving.

Trepp’s widow Gunda Trepp has edited the book, the foreword is written by Karl Kardinal Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz.

Date: March 13, 2013, 7:30 PM

Location: Alte Synagoge Mainz- Weisenau, Wormser Str. 3

The musical arrangement will be provided by Mr. Volker Beling (violin). This event is free of charge.

New publication: ‘Lebendiges Judentum’ can now be ordered

The Essay Collection ‘Lebendiges Judentum – Texte aus den Jahren 1943 bis 2010′ (Lively Jewry – Texts from 1943 till 2010), edited by Gunda Trepp, will be released by Kohlhammer publishing house at the end of February 2013. The texts, some of them unpublished to date, give us insights into the variety and richness of topics Leo Trepp dealt with: questions about interreligious dialogue as well as reflections on topics such as racism and the compatibility of Jewry and Modernity.

Please follow this link to order a copy of the new Leo Trepp book here.

Naming of Leo-Trepp-Straße in Oldenburg unequivocally approved

Tthe City of Oldenburg is honoring Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Leo Trepp by naming a street after him. On February 18, 2013, the City Council of Oldenburg unanimously passed resolution, file number 413, 13/0089. The former ‘Wilhelmstraße’ between Katharinen- and Marienstraße in the proximity of the Jewish Community Center, the synagogue and the PFL Cultural Centre will be namend Leo-Trepp-Straße. This central street will acknowledge Rabbi Trepp’s lifework and commitment for the reconciliation between Jews and Christians in Germany after World War II. Trepp had been awared with Honorary Citizenship of the City of Oldenburg in 1990 already. The solemn Renaming will take place on March 3rd, 2013, one day before Trepp’s 100th birthday.

Please find more local newspaper articles on the naming of the Leo-Trepp-Straße here (in German):

Take a look at the location of the future Leo-Trepp-Straße here.

Gunda Trepp gives reading from Leo Trepp’s unpublished autobiography

On February 5th, 2013, Gunda Trepp, wife of Leo Trepp (1913-2010), read from his unpublished autobiography “Leo Trepp – A German Life”. The reading constituted the last session of the lecture series “University in the City Hall” in Mainz which was held in honour of Rabbi Trepp’s lifelong engagement against anti-Semitism and violence. Trepp would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

The autobiography will be published by the end of 2013.

Read the full article here (in German).

A Living Judaism – Publication of Essays to honor Rabbi Leo Trepp z’l for his 100th birthday

To honor Rabbi Leo Trepp for the day, which would have been his 100th birthday, the German Kohlhammer Publishing House will be publishing a collection of essays written by Trepp between 1943 and 2010, edited by his widow, Gunda Trepp. Karl Kardinal Lehmann, Bishop of the German City of Mainz, Trepp’s birthplace, will be prefacing the book.

See the book’s announcement:

“On March 4, 2013, Leo Trepp (1913- 2010), Rabbi and philosopher of religion, would have celebrated his 100th birthday. The interest in his work and the respect of his personality and scientific contribution are unbroken as of today. The first texts of the present edition demonstrate the peculiar dynamic of Judaism that has been inherent from the beginning and how especially German Jewry has changed and contributed to the development of Jewish thought over time. The texts from the Jewish philosophers follow this development. Trepp has dealt extensively with Hirsch, Rosenzweig and Cohen, as well as Mordechai Kaplan, who has influenced him and has been influenced by Trepp respectively. Trepp was also occupied with the question of Israel’s influence on Judaism and the role Jewish thinking plays in modern life – be it in interreligious dialogue or for emancipation of women.”

City of Bremerhaven names street after Leo Trepp

The city of Bremerhaven will name a street in the South of Bremerhaven after Rabbi Leo Trepp. The Luneplate, a nature protection area, only became part of Bremen in 2009 after having belonged to the city of Oldenburg where Leo Trepp had worked as a Rabbi for many years. The initiative is a tribute to Trepp’s contribution to the regeneration of the National Socialist past of Germany.

Read the full article here (in German).

Jewry in the Modern Era –In commemoration of Rabbi Leo Trepp

Lecture Series “University in the City Hall”, organized by Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, October 23rd, 2012 until February 5th, 2013 in the Mainz City Hall,

8 pm, free entrance (Language: German)

In commemoration of Leo Trepp’s 100th birthday in the coming year, the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz is dedicating their upcoming lecture series “University in the city hall” to Rabbi Leo Trepp who taught at the University of Mainz as honorary  lecturer. In seven evening events, the speakers will shed a light on Jewry in the modern Era discussing cultural as well as religious and philosophical topics that reflect Trepp’s multi-faceted thinking. The themes range from the uniqueness of German-Jewish literature and its development in the modern era to the depiction of Jewishness in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice by the example of the character Shylock. The interrelation of Judaism and the discourse of modernity in general will be addressed. Furthermore, the lecture series pursues the relevant issue of interreligious dialogue, especially with Islam, which Trepp discussed and promoted during his lifetime. Finally, Trepp’s widow Gunda Trepp will read from his previously undisclosed autobiography A German Life (“Ein deutsches Leben”).

Please follow the links below for further information

pdf-document of the programme to “Jewry in the Modern Era” (in German).

Advertisement for “Jewry in the Modern Era”- lecture series at the University of Mainz (in German).

Advertisement for “Jewry in the Modern Era”- lecture series of the State Senate, Mainz (in German).

Series of events “Ambassador of Reconciliation” at the Leo-Trepp-Lehrhaus, Oldenburg

On occasion of his 100th birthday next year, the Jewish community of Oldenburg is honoring its former Chief Rabbi Professor Leo Trepp with a series of events under the name “Ambassador of Reconciliation”. In four evening lectures, the series sheds a light on Jewish life throughout the course of history and discusses the different historical and political challenges Jewry has encountered in the last six centuries. The series humbly commemorates Rabbi Leo Trepp who had passed away at age 97 in 2010 as a spirit of open- mindedness, tolerance and reconciliation between religions and peoples.


October 25, 7.30 pm, Synagoge, Wilhelmstr. 17


Dr. Christine Krüger, Freiburg

“David Mannheimer – Jewish Patriotism and the First World War” (Language: German)

November 1, 7.30 pm, Synagoge, Wilhelmstr. 17,


Prof. Dr. Thomas Kaufmann, Göttingen,

“Luther and the Jews” (Language: German)

November 22, 7.30 pm,

Library of Carl von Ossiektzky University,


Gunda Trepp, USA “Dialogue and Reconciliation” Leo Trepp 1913 – 2010 (Language: German)

December 13, 7.30 pm,

Library, Carl von Ossietzky University


Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

“Jewish Life in contemporary German society” (Language: German)

free entrance

Please follow the link for further information

Event note of the the Jewish community of Oldenburg (in German).

Speech at Kristallnacht Remembrance, Keene State College, New Hampshire

On Tuesday, November 8, 2012, Gunda Trepp, Leo Trepp’s second wife, will speak at the Remembrance event „Kristallnacht Remembrance“ at Keene State College, New Hamsphire. Under the theme We remember– We create– We make a difference, the victims of the Pogrom night are remembered and honored. On November 9, 1938, the Nazis organized and carried out the first public anti-Jewish violence, they burnt down over 200 synagoges; 91 Jews died.

The event will host musical performances, lectures and the solemn lighting of remembrance candles. With this event, the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of Keene State College seeks to promote a world free of anti-Semitism, intolerance, and hate. The event takes place at the Colonial Theatre in Keene, New Hampshire.

The entrance to this community event is free.

Please find further information and the programme here.

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