Widen the Circle
Widen the Circle
Building a tolerant future through a shared understanding of the past

Special Obermayer Awards Introduced for 2020

The Anniversary awards will honor those finding creative, effective approaches to fighting prejudicE


For two decades, the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards have honored Germans who have worked selflessly to breathe new life into the Jewish history and culture in their communities.

Now, to mark their 20th anniversary, the Obermayer Awards are expanding. The new Anniversary Awards will focus on those who, through innovative efforts, find ways to use the lessons of history to fight against current prejudice and racism. These individuals and organizations are changing attitudes that lead to intolerance, as well as fostering the kind of understanding among different cultures that prevents prejudice from taking root.

The Anniversary Awards are particularly timely, given the tide of hate speech and prejudice—particularly anti-Semitism—that has been rising across Germany, Europe, and elsewhere. Old stereotypes and distortions have been spread more and more openly. At the same time, many individuals and organizations in Germany have been fighting back and deserve to be recognized. 

A panel to select candidates for the Anniversary Awards is in formation and will be chaired by Sara Nachama, founding director of Touro College Berlin. The judges will be looking for work that is innovative, successful over an extended period of time, and has the potential to be replicated or to inspire similar work elsewhere, among other criteria.


Award criteria and nomination forms for the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards and the Anniversary Awards

“One thing we’ve learned through 20 years of honoring amazing people and organizations is that the lessons of history are incredibly relevant to our modern world,” says Joel Obermayer, executive director of Widen the Circle, a division of the Obermayer Foundation that oversees programs related to tolerance, reconciliation, and intercultural understanding, including the Obermayer awards. “A deep sensibility about German Jewish history and culture helps us understand the relationship between oppressors and the oppressed, examine different perspectives, and see each other as human beings first. We plan to honor the people who are using these lessons in creative ways to fight conflict and prejudice today.”

The Obermayer German Jewish History Awards, including the Anniversary Awards, will be presented in a ceremony at the Berlin Parliament on January 27, 2020. 

“For our Anniversary Awards, we’re looking for people or organizations that have worked effectively to reduce prejudice and foster understanding among cultures in local communities in Germany. If it’s someone who has been largely unrecognized to this point, all the better — it’s the accomplishments that matter,” Obermayer says. 

Information about the awards is available at the Obermayer Foundation’s website, including a complete description of the awards, award criteria, and nomination forms.


Obermayer German Jewish History Award honorees