January 23, 2017

Deadline: September 21, 2016


In recent decades, many individuals in Germany have raised awareness of a once-vibrant Jewish history and culture in their communities through educational programs exhibitions, restoration of synagogues and cemeteries, installation of Holocaust memorials, genealogical research, development of websites, publications, Stolpersteine, public programs, and other activities.  They have forged meaningful relationships with former residents and descendants of those who once lived in their towns. They are teachers and engineers, publishers and judges, artists and bankers, lawyers and business executives, and they come from every corner of the country. These volunteers have devoted countless hours to such projects.  

The Obermayer Awards recognize and encourage those who have been devoted to such activities and bring international attention to their work.  Five individuals are honored each year.

The award program was initiated in 2000 by Dr. Arthur S. Obermayer (1931-2016).  Awards are presented annually at the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin, the home of the Berlin Parliament. A Distinguished Service Award, an honor bestowed upon extraordinary individuals whose accomplishments fall outside the scope of the specific award guidelines, was established by the jury in 2013.

The Awards are presented in late January to coincide with the commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 1945. Awards are administered and supported by the Obermayer Foundation, with sponsorship, support and organization of the ceremony in Berlin by the Berlin Parliament. They are also co-sponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute (New York), and GerSIG, (the German Jewish Special Interest Group of JewishGen.org).


Awards are presented to non-Jewish Germans living in Germany. Their contributions are evaluated for public impact, educational relevance, enduring value, and as a result, improve communications between Jews and non-Jews. The activities shall not have been done as part of regular professional work, for monetary reward, or for fulfillment of an academic requirement. They may be related to the nominee's profession if the contributions go beyond what would be expected from normal work. The scope of work outlined in the profiles of previous recipients may be used as a guideline, but other forms of significant contributions are especially welcome.

Recognizing the emergence of societies that support local Jewish history projects, education and programs, the jury has opened the award this year to applications for these initiatives.  Nominations may cite the activities of the organization, but should identify individuals (no more than two) who coordinate the efforts. The award will recognize the work of the organization as well as the individuals.


Nominations must be received by September 21, 2016.

In the past, the majority of nominations have been submitted by Jews from outside of Germany, many of whom had relatives who perished in the Holocaust.  We welcome nominations from from all over the world, especially from appreciative Jews.  Additional nominators are encouraged and may provide further information about the nominee. Nominations should list complete contact information for both the nominator and the nominee (name, address, telephone number, as well as email and/or fax if available).  The application information may be supplemented, if so requested by the nominator.

A biographical sketch and description of the individual's activities should be submitted by each nominator in a maximum of 1,000 words, covering such points as:

  1. Description of the nominee’s or organization's activities (written document, exhibition, etc.)
  2. What motivated the nominee to undertake this work? Were there any special problems encountered? How was it created? Were projects partnership with others?
  3. How did the nominator become acquainted with the activities?
  4. What was the public response (include, if relevant, references to media)? 
  5. How could these activities be used by others (for example, in archives, classrooms, libraries)?
  6. What is the ongoing impact of the work?
  7. Is the work ongoing, or what was its duration? 

If there are only one or two nominators, the application should include names and contact information for two other references familiar with the nominee's work. The jury may contact these individuals or request supplemental information from the nominee.

Digital submissions are strongly preferred and must be in one of the following formats:  docx, doc, rtf, pdf.  Non-digital submissions must be typed or computer generated in final form. 

Supplementary Materials (for example, a book, article, video, CD-ROM, photos of exhibits, reconstructions or renovations) may be submitted in single copy to the Obermayer Foundation, Inc., to be received by September 9, 2016. These materials will not ordinarily be returned, and will be donated to the Leo Baeck Institute for its archives and library. If there are publications by the nominee already in the collection of the Leo Baeck Institute, please list the titles and catalog numbers in your application.  Supplementary materials are not required.


Profiles of previous years’ awardees as well as information about past award ceremonies are available at http://www.obermayer.us/award/.  Recordings of recent ceremonies, may be found on our YouTube Channel).


The Obermayer Awards Jury is composed of international scholars and leaders with extensive knowledge of German Jewish history and culture. Members are:

  • Karen Franklin, President (New York)
  • Henry Obermayer (San Francisco)
  • Ralf Wieland President, Berlin House of Representatives, (Berlin)
  • David Ellenson (New York)
  • Frank Mecklenburg (New York),
  • Sara Nachama (Berlin)
  • Hanno Loewy (Hohenems, Austria)

Their biographies can be found at http://www.obermayer.us/award/jury.htm.


Awardees will be notified in November 2016. Certificates of Commendation will be sent to other worthy candidates after the award ceremony.


The elegant award ceremony will take place in Berlin on January 23, 2017 at the Abgeordnetenhaus, the home of the Berlin Parliament, and there will be a banquet the previous evening. Travel, hotel and banquet expenses for awardees and their spouses or significant others will be covered. Successful nominators are also invited to attend all of the award ceremony events in Berlin, where they will meet with the award recipients they have chosen to honor.

Awardees will receive an honorarium to be used for the furtherance of their work. The awards receive extensive press coverage in the awardees' communities, throughout Germany and internationally (see http://www.obermayer.us/award/news.htm).


For additional information, see http://www.obermayer.us/award. All submissions and English language queries should be sent, preferably by email, to germanaward@gmail.com or to:

Obermayer Foundation, Inc.
15 Grey Stone Path
Dedham, MA 02026

All supplementary materials should also be sent to the Obermayer Foundation at the above address.

German language queries only should be sent to:

Ms. Karin Brandes
Referat Protokol
Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin
D-10111 Berlin-Mitte