January 22, 2018

Deadline: September 12, 2017



In recent decades, many individuals in Germany have worked creatively and selflessly to preserve, raise awareness, and breathe new life into the once-vibrant Jewish culture in their communities. Each year, the Obermayer Foundation typically recognizes five individuals and/or organizations engaged in this work through the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards.

The Obermayer German Jewish History Awards recognize, encourage, and raise awareness about non-Jewish German individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to preserving and breathing new life into Jewish history and culture, thereby furthering intergenerational and intercultural healing.

Since 2000, the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards have been bestowed upon individuals and groups working to preserve Jewish history and culture through projects, such as:

  • Educational programs and exhibitions
  • Restoration of synagogues and cemeteries
  • Installation of Holocaust memorials
  • Genealogical research
  • Development of websites and publications
  • Stolpersteine
  • Public programs

Award recipients hail from a wide variety of professions, from stone masons and letter carriers to artists and physicians, and come from all regions of Germany. Profiles of previous years’ awardees, as well as information about past award ceremonies, are available at http://www.obermayer.us/award/. While the scope of work outlined in the profiles of previous recipients may be used as a guideline for determining eligibility, other forms of significant contributions are especially welcome.

The award program was initiated by Dr. Arthur S. Obermayer (1931-2016). Awards are administered 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).


The awards are given to individuals and groups that have:

  • Made extraordinary contributions to preserving or breathing new life into Jewish history, culture, cemeteries and synagogues in their own local communities
  • Raised awareness of a once-vibrant Jewish history and culture in their communities

Potential awardees’ projects are evaluated for:

  • Educational relevance
  • Enduring value and potential for broader impact
  • Mutual understanding of and respect for shared heritage
  • Improved relationships among people of different cultures

Awardees’ projects may not be 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.


Nominations must be received by September 12, 2017. Supplementary materials must be received by September 6, 2017.

Nominations are welcome from all over the world; applications with at least one Jewish nominator are preferred.  Additional nominators are encouraged and may provide further information about the nominee.

Nominators must submit the following materials, all of which are described in more detail on the Application Cover Sheet and Detailed Application Instructions, which are available at http://www.obermayer.us/award/application.htm.

  • The completed Cover Sheet
  • A biographical sketch of the person or group being nominated
  • A description of the nominated individual's or organization’s activities
  • Personal references, if required (see Cover Sheet)

Optionally, supplementary materials (such as a book, article, video, CD-ROM, and/or photos of exhibits, reconstructions, or renovations) may be submitted. See the Detailed Application Instructions for more information. 

Completely at the discretion of the nominator(s) and the nominee(s), a personal statement from the nominee(s) may be submitted with these materials. If included, this statement should be no more than 200 words, and should focus on the nominee(s)’ motivation to undertake and continue this work.


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

  • Karen Franklin, Jury President (New York); Director of Family Research at the Leo Baeck Institute
  • Henry Obermayer (San Francisco); Academic, community builder, and counselor
  • Ralf Wieland (Berlin); President, Berlin House of Representatives
  • David Ellenson (New York); Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University
  • Frank Mecklenburg (New York); Chief Archivist and Director of Research at the Leo Baeck Institute
  • Sara Nachama (Berlin); Executive Founding Director of the Berlin branch of Touro College (NY) and Vice President and Rector of Touro College Berlin
  • Hanno Loewy (Hohenems, Austria); Director of the Jewish Museum Hohenems and founding director of the Fritz Bauer Institute

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


Awardees will be notified in November 2017.

Certificates of Commendation will be sent to other worthy candidates after the award ceremony.


The formal award ceremony will take place in Berlin on January 22, 2018 at the Abgeordnetenhaus, the home of the Berlin Parliament, and it is preceded by a banquet the previous evening.  The award ceremony is held in late January to coincide with the commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day – January 27, 1945.  Recordings of recent ceremonies are available on our YouTube Channel.

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

Travel, hotel and banquet expenses for awardees and one guest will be reimbursed. 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.


For additional information, see http://www.obermayer.us/award. All 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

German language queries only should be sent to:

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