Center for Jewish History Launches Online Exhibit, “How Jews Became Citizens: Highlights from the Sid Lapidus Collection”

New York, NY (September 14, 2023)

The Center for Jewish History (CJH), home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel, announced that its highly successful recent exhibit, “How Jews Became Citizens: Highlights from the Sid Lapidus Collection,” will now be available online on the CJH website. There, visitors receive a full virtual tour of the rare artifacts that tell the story of the Jewish path to emancipation.

The exhibit raises meaningful questions and tells the complex, ongoing story of the Jewish people’s path to emancipation—the process through which Jews obtained rights—in Europe, across centuries.

“This exhibit was a rousing success and we wanted to keep it going,” said CJH President Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld. “We are so grateful to Sid Lapidus and his family for their generous donation and the best way we can think of to honor Sid and his wide-ranging collection of books and documents is to make it accessible for all to see. Everyone interested in Jewish history – from academics to everyday citizens – deserves to have the ability to read, study, learn, and continue the ancient practice of learning so treasured by generations of Jews throughout the history of the world.” 

Showcasing rare books and historical documents, the online exhibit takes a geographical approach to discussions about Jewish emancipation between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Debates about expanding the political, social, and economic rights of European Jews took place at the highest levels of government in England, France, Italy, and the German States during this time. The Lapidus collection traces these conversations about immigration, (re)admission, economic opportunity, and citizenship through key thinkers like Menasseh ben Israel and Moses Mendelssohn, whose writings shaped both law and public opinion on the civil rights of Jews.

Lapidus, who serves on the Board of Directors at the Center for Jewish History and the American Jewish Historical Society, donated more than 150 rare books and pamphlets to the Center in recent years that form the core of the exhibit.

The exhibit was also made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the New York City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature."

About Sid Lapidus
Sid Lapidus serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Jewish History and the American Jewish Historical Society, as well as numerous other charitable and non-profit organizations. He retired after 40 years as a partner of Warburg Pincus LLC, one of the country’s leading private equity firms. Lapidus is still the Lead Director of Lennar, the country's largest home builder. In 2014, he and his wife established the Lapidus Center for Historical Analysis of Trans-Atlantic Slavery at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.