Burning Words: A History Play by Peter Wortsman

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Burning Words: A History Play by Peter Wortsman will be presented at the Center for Jewish History on April 3rd:


In one of the first debates of the
print era, Johannes Reuchlin, a humanist Christian jurist, clashed with
Christian convert from Judaism Johannes Pfefferkorn, who was a willing tool of
the Dominican Order in their quest to burn Jewish books. Magda Teter (Fordham

University) offers scholarly commentary on this multimedia dramatic reading of scenes from a play about zealotry, censorship, and religious tolerance directed by Max Shulman.

Ticket Info: $15 general; $10 Leo Baeck Institute / Center for Jewish History members: http://cjh.org/event/2817

Burning Words has been supported by a generous grant from The David Berg Foundation and was organized by the Center for Jewish History and the Leo Baeck Institute

Exhibition: Burning Words


Burning Words is an exploration of the 16th-century debate carried out through the relatively new medium of printed books over whether Jewish books should be confiscated and burned. Extremely rare original volumes from the Leo Baeck Institute library including works by Martin Luther, Johannes Pfefferkorn and Johannes Reuchlin are the center of the exhibit.

This talk will focus on Johannes Reuchlin, a German scholar of the period, who strongly advocated in favor of Jewish books, stressing the importance of Jewish ideas in the Christian world. Columbia University’s Elisheva Carlebach is a scholar of early modern Jewish history who wrote the introduction to an influential translation of Reuchlin as well as Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500 – 1750.

Burning Words will be on view in The David Berg Rare Book Room at the Center for Jewish History from February 8th – May 6th 2016


This exhibition takes its title from the stage play Burning Words by Peter Wortsman, which dramatizes the conflict between Johannes Reuchlin and Johannes Pfefferkorn. Wortsman’s play was inspired by his own English translation of Reuchlin’s famous defense of the Talmud: Recommendation Whether to Confiscate, Destroy and Burn All Jewish Books: A Classic Treatise Against Anti-Semitism, Johann Reuchlin, Translated, Edited and with a Foreward by Peter Wortsman. Critical Introduction by Elisheva Carlebach.  New York : Paulist Press, 2000.

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