Article by Leo Trepp in DIE ZEIT about Raphael Samson Hirsch
Trepp’s homage to Samson Raphael Hirsch on the occasion of his 200th birthday was published in the renowned newspaper DIE ZEIT on June 12, 2008. Trepp connects the appraisal of the founder of the New Orthodoxy with a historical overview about Jewish life at the end of the 18th century in Germany. Growing up in times when Jewry was moving between Reform and Orthodoxy, i.e. between openness towards changes in the procedure of Jewish services on the one hand and communities strictly focussing on traditional services on the other hand, Hirsch was affiliated with the latter and founded New Orthodoxy. Trepp refers to Hirsch’s life and work and presents his teachings in warm and respectful words: that one ought to treat all humans– Jewish or not– with love, equality and respect and that one ought to remain faithful to God’s Teachings while also living a life in society.
Nigune Magenza – Jewish Liturgic Chants from Mainz
Published in Schott Verlag, this edition documents the liturgic chants from the Jewish community in Mainz, that had been passed down orally from generation to generation. Rabbi Leo Trepp had been passionate about these melodies from childhood on and understood them as part of his Jewish faith and practice. The survival of these melodies is thanks to him, who kept the melodies in his memory over the years. Trepp saved them through the Nazi regime which had destroyed the Jewish community in Mainz in 1938. Otherwise, this piece of Jewish musical heritage would have been lost forever.
The edition contains 2 CDs with the chants as well as music sheets of all the chants. This document is a wonderful piece of Jewish heritage in Mainz and part of a centuries-old Jewish tradition.
Memorial Speech by Leo Trepp in front of the Landtag of Rhineland-Palatinate (2005)
On occasion of the Remembrance Day of Holocaust Victims, Professor and Rabbi Leo Trepp gave a moving, yet awakening memorial speech in front of the Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate on January 27th, 2005. The president of the Landtag, Christoph Grimm and Rhineland-Palatinate’s premier Kurt Beck were present at the speech and seeably touched by Trepp’s words. Trepp talked about how German society today should deal with its past of national socialism. Today’s generation should bear no guilt for those unspeakable crimes against humanity that the Nazis iniitated, stressed Trepp. However, it is Germany’s responsibility to play an exemplary and leading role in the fight against anti-Semitism and misanthropy. Trepp called anti-Semitism a “virus” that started to spread from the political and societal elite to the broad German public in the 1930ies.
Trepp urges his audience to face right-wing radicalism, which is on the rise again in some parts of Germany of today. German citizens need to take responsibility and actively take part in the fight against anti-Semitism – for example, by engaging in public education about the topic and leading open dialogue.
After the speech, Leo Trepp engaged in a conversation with High School students from four schools, who are working on projects dealing with the topics of interreligious dialogue between Christianity, Jewry and Islam as well as societal issues such as the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. In group projects, the youth created ideas, workshops and events that are aiming at a tolerant, responsible and participating German society.
The document of the series of the Landtag of Rhineland- Palatinate which contains Leo Trepp’s memorial speech as well as the speech of Kurt Beck, premier of Rhineland- Palatinate, can be accessed here (in German).
Speech at the University of Würzburg (2010)
75 years after obtaining his Ph.D. at the University of Würzburg, Trepp is invited to speak about his experiences in Germany and at the University during the Nazi era. Having started his studies in Berlin, the Trepp family experienced rising anti-Semitism, so that Leo Trepp transferred to the University of Würzburg to continue his studies. His moving lecture “Würzburg– the City, its University and its Jews” (in German language), which is more of a personal testimonial, deals with the difficulties and rising political pressure after the Nazis took power and brought their anti-Semitic ideology into the Universities. Against all odds, Trepp finished his Doctorate of Philosophy in the troublesome times of 1935, dealing with „Taine, Montaigne, Richeome– Their Understandings of Religion and Church– A Contribution to French Studies“. He was likely the last Jewish doctoral graduate at the University before the Nazis prohibited Jews at the University.
Since 2010, Leo Trepp is honorary member of the University of Würzburg.
Find below a private recording of Trepp’s speech at the University of Würzburg (in German):
Celebrating the Seder with Rabbi Leo Trepp (2010)
In this short clip, 97-year-old Leo Trepp talks about his memories as Rabbi in Germany in the 1930ies, later in the USA. After the so-called Night of Broken Glass (Pogrom Night), Trepp was brought to the Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen. Shortly after, he could emigrate to the United States and continue his work as Rabbi. During the preparation for the radio show for NPR, an American broadcasting channel, Journalist Lonny Shavelson accompagnied Trepp celebrating the Seder evening within his family and friend circle. The video gives insight into the ceremony of the Seder which initiates the celebration of the Passover holiday: