Event Information

April 3, 2014
Congregation Shearith Israel - The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue
New York, NY
Confronting Intolerance Today

As part of The New Amsterdam History Center book series The Anne Frank Center USA is proud to present
Author Russell Shorto and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik discuss Mr. Shorto's new book, Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

What makes Amsterdam's liberal values unique, and how are they being challenged today?
Q&A and book signing to follow.

Tourists know Amsterdam as a picturesque city of low-slung brick houses lining tidy canals; student travelers know it for its legal brothels and hash bars; art lovers know it for Rembrandt's glorious portraits. But the deeper history of Amsterdam, what makes it one of the most fascinating places on earth, is bound up in its unique geography-the constant battle of its citizens to keep the sea at bay and the democratic philosophy that this enduring struggle fostered. Amsterdam is the font of liberalism, in both its senses. Tolerance for free thinking and free love make it a place where, in the words of one of its mayors, "craziness is a value." But the city also fostered the deeper meaning of liberalism, one that profoundly influenced America: political and economic freedom. Amsterdam was home not only to religious dissidents and radical thinkers but to the world's first great global corporation.

In this effortlessly erudite account, Russell Shorto traces the idiosyncratic evolution of Amsterdam, showing how such disparate elements as herring anatomy, naked Anabaptists parading through the streets, and an intimate gathering in a sixteenth-century wine-tasting room had a profound effect on Dutch-and world-history. Weaving in his own experiences of his adopted home, Shorto provides an ever-surprising, intellectually engaging story of Amsterdam from the building of its first canals in the 1300s, through its brutal struggle for independence, its golden age as a vast empire, to its complex present in which its cherished ideals of liberalism are under siege.

This event is sponsored by Shearith Israel, the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Anne Frank Center USA, and the New Amsterdam History Center. It is supported as part of The Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York, and through funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Netherland-America Foundation, and KLM Royal Dutch airlines, the official airline of The Anne Frank Center USA.

When: Thursday April 3, 2014, 7:00pm
Where: Congregation Shearith Israel, 8 West 70th Street, New York, NY 10023
How to attend: Open to the public. Space is limited. RSVP here