We dreamed of nothing but Enlightenment: Moses Mendelssohn in His Time

Article publié le 9 September 2021

Exhibition shown at the Jewish Museum of Berlin.

Immigrant, Enlightenment philosopher, and self-made intellectual in his time, Moses Mendelssohn was already a European celebrity and he remains a central figure in German Judaism to this day.

The exhibition tells of Mendelssohn’s life in Berlin and shows him as a figure who integrated polarizing forces in the midst of historical upheaval and awakening.

With his Christian friends, Moses Mendelssohn discussed philosophical and political questions. As an author he challenged his audience to think critically. As an observant Jew, he linked tradition with Enlightenment ideas, and championed secular education and civil equality for Jews as Jews. His translation of the Torah made religious knowledge accessible to all.

The exhibition presents the era of the Enlightenment as a laboratory for radical change, in which human rights, freedom of opinion, and the diversity of individual ways of life were articulated and demanded. With his arguments for the emancipation of Jews, rights for minorities, and the relationship between religion and the state, Mendelssohn opened a path into modernity—and provoked questions about Jewish identity that persist to this day.

April 14th – September 11th, 2022