I Love Albert Einstein

I Love Albert Einstein

Or, as an IT guy once offered by way of a model computer password: “IloveAlbertEinstein.” The phrase was memorable and unpredictable, and therefore difficult to hack, but my first reaction was to wonder: IT guy, you’re brainy, but why do you love Albert Einstein?

I still don’t know why he did, or if he only loved Einstein as a password. But why not be grateful to a man who reenvisioned the universe? If you love the Rambam, or Mohandas Gandhi, or Harriet Tubman, enlargers all of our understandings, you’ll find it easy to love Albert Einstein.

On view now at the Morgan Library & Museum are a trio of items to help you in this effort, a pop-up exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the general theory of relativity. There is a letter from Einstein to the astronomer Erwin Finlay Freundlich, one of twenty-five the Morgan holds, in which Einstein discusses Freundlich’s attempts to prove the theory of relativity through astronomical observations, and a reproduction of the title page of the first edition of “Die Grundlage der Allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie” (“Foundations of the General Theory of Relativity”).

Of special interest to readers of the Jewish Week is an inscribed photograph from Einstein’s first trip to the United States in 1921, the year he won the Nobel Prize. On this journey he gave speeches and lectures and also raised money for Hebrew University, with which he was involved from its earliest days – indeed Einstein left his archive and the rights to his publications to the university.

The inscription is not translated at the Morgan; it reads in German, “Dem glühenden Erwecker der jüdischen Seele und erfolgreichen Kämpfer für unsere Universität zum Andenken freundschaftlich zugeeignet,” which may be translated roughly: “To the passionate awakeners of the Jewish soul and successful fighters for our university, warmly dedicated as a memento.” One doesn’t expect Einstein to have thought about awakening the Jewish soul, but here is a small proof of the magnitude of his own.

While you’re at the Morgan, don’t miss the Rembrandt show just down the hall – two geniuses twenty feet away from each other should not be missed.

The exhibition is on view at the Morgan Library, 225 Madison Avenue (36th/37th Streets), New York, through October 16, 2016

Elizabeth Denlinger is a curator at the New York Public Library. She wishes to thank Jeanne-Marie Musto for her assistance in transcribing and translating Einstein’s words.

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