How Jews Became Citizens: Highlights from the Sid Lapidus Collection

How Jews Became Citizens: Highlights from the Sid Lapidus Collection

What does citizenship mean to you? What are the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship?

The Center for Jewish History raises these meaningful questions in the special exhibition, How Jews Became Citizens: Highlights from the Sid Lapidus Collection. The Lapidus collection tells the complex, ongoing story of the Jewish people’s path to emancipation—the process through which Jews obtained rights—in Europe, across centuries.

Showcasing rare books and historic documents, How Jews Became Citizens takes a geographical approach to discussions around Jewish emancipation in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Debate and negotiation over expanding political, social, and economic rights to Jews took place at the highest levels of government in England, France, Italy, and the German States during this time. The Lapidus collection traces those conversations about immigration, admission and settlement, economic opportunity, and citizenship through the key thinkers whose writings shaped both law and public opinion on the civil rights of Jews.

CJH Board Member Sid Lapidus has donated over 130 rare books and pamphlets to the Center in recent years. This collection relates broadly to the social conditions, intellectual life, and gradual emancipation of the Jews of Western Europe. We are thrilled to share this important collection with the public, and encourage visitors to ask themselves: is Jewish Emancipation still an ongoing process?

The accompanying online exhibit can be seen at

Exhibit Closed

This exhibit closed on
Tuesday, March 21, 2023