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Author(s): Hofman, Nila Ginger
Date: 2000
Abstract: My dissertation addresses the sociocultural processes which contribute to the construction of ethnocultural identity among Zagrebian Jews. I argue, contrary to the often essentialized perception of Jewish identity imposed by e.g. the Croatian government and Jewish international organizations, that Jewish identity in Zagreb is actively chosen in ways that are both idiosyncratic and contingent upon the surrounding sociocultural environment. At the heart of my argument is an appeal to the dynamic and contextual nature of identity negotiation, and the influence this has on the maintenance and survival of the Zagrebian Jewish community. In support of this, I have employed ethnographic methods to assess (i) the ways in which Jewish identity is negotiated by community members and (ii) the ways in which the meaning of Jewish community is sustained in Zagreb. With regards to (i), I conclude that Zagrebian Jews understand their identities in terms of symbolic ethnoreligiosity, i.e. in terms of feelings and nostalgic ideas about Jewish culture and tradition. With regards to (ii), I show that the history and development of Jewish identity in Zagreb can be traced through patterns of membership participation in various Jewish organizations prevalent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These patterns reveal the predominantly secular nature of the Zagrebian Jewish community. In light of this, I argue that community for Zagrebian Jews is ultimately defined symbolically through various types of social interaction among members. It is for this reason that the recent attempts of both international Jewish organizations and the Croatian government to impose an essentialized image of Jewish identity on the community are at odds with, and ultimately destructive to, the secular and improvisatory self-images of the members themselves.
Author(s): Ben-Rafael, Eliezer
Date: 2017
Abstract: Contemporary works have shown that antisemitism is far from moribund in Europe and it is in this context that in 2012 was conducted extensive research in the EU on current perceptions and experiences of antisemitism among Jews in Europe. I present and analyze here results that relate specifically to Belgian Jews (438 subjects out of 6,200 in eight countries). The first objective of this work is to learn about the Jewishness of our sample. Hence, we find that 40% of the respondents identify themselves as secular Jews; 15% consider themselves liberals; more than a quarter say they “observe certain traditions”; one sixth define themselves as Orthodox Jews. The data confirm, at this point, that there is only a limited correlation between religiosity and Jewishness: less religious or even non-religious people tend to express an identification with, and commitment to, Jewishness that were not weaker than the Orthodox’. The various factions are also united by a general feeling that while Belgium cannot be considered as an antisemitic state, it is currently experiencing virulent antisemitism in wide milieus. This antisemitism is bound to a sharp anti-Israelism salient in public life, the media, and the Internet. More than a number of other communities in Europe, Belgian Jews see antisemitism reigning in their environment with a gravity. They testify that the Israel-Palestine conflict weighs on their sense of insecurity; they confess that they have often considered the option of emigrating and they openly accuse Muslim extremists of inciting antisemitism. Belgian Jews also feel more vulnerable to antisemitic attacks and tend to resent a weakening in their position in society. On the other hand, what grants support to the Belgian Jews in these circumstances is that they often belong to the properous segments of the population. Moreover, there is the vitality of the community where one finds multiple forms of expression and activity - magazines, radio, clubs, synagogues, museums, etc.- and above all, exceptional educational infrastructures. These resources allow Belgian Jews, if not to protect themselves against the virus of antisemitism, at least to face it.
Author(s): Gross, Martine
Date: 2012
Abstract: Dans la société française contemporaine, laïque et souvent considérée hostile aux regroupements sur une base « communautaire », le Beit Haverim (« Maison des Ami-e-s » en hébreu) représente une association originale. Créée à la fin des années 1970, ce groupe juif homosexuel parisien s’inscrit d’abord dans les transformations du mouvement homosexuel, dont il fait partie intégrante. Le Beit Haverim participe du mouvement actuel des associations « gay plus un » que décrit Elisabeth Armstrong1 dans son analyse de la construction identitaire gay depuis les années 1950 à San Francisco. Son développement renvoie aussi aux transformations du monde juif français, marqué par le questionnement sur la place du religieux dans l’identité juive. Alors que les lieux de socialisation juive, synagogues, centres culturels, n’autorisent pas une affirmation gay ou lesbienne, le Beit Haverim permet à ses membres non seulement de vivre leur homosexualité dans une dimension identitaire collective mais également d’y trouver un support pour une autre dimension identitaire, leur judéité. Les différents rituels proposés par l’association offrent à ses sympathisants de quoi forger un sentiment d’intégration et d’affirmation de leurs deux dimensions. Des « tea dance » calées sur le calendrier des fêtes juives jusqu’aux cérémonies d’union modelées sur le rituel du mariage juif traditionnel, l’entretien entre Franck Jaoui, son actuel porte-parole, et Martine Gross, chercheure qui fut aussi l’une des membres fondatrices de l’association, permet de retracer la place du rituel dans la construction de sociabilités et d’identités juives homosexuelles en France.
Date: 2016
Author(s): Lewkowicz, Bea
Date: 1999
Abstract: This study is an ethnographic account of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki and a description and analysis of oral histories gathered during my fieldwork in 1994. The thesis looks at the intersection of history, memory, and identity by analysing how identities and memories are shaped by historical experiences and how identities shape memories of historical experiences. Thessaloniki has undergone tremendous changes in the twentieth century. The demographic, political, and architectural landscape has radically altered. In the context of my thesis, the most relevant changes concern the ethnic and religious composition of Thessaloniki's population, the city's incorporation into the Greek nation-state (1912), the subsequent introduction of nationalism, and the annihilation of 48,000 Salonikan Jews during the Second World War. The thesis explores how these historical changes and 'events' are represented in individual narratives of Jews in Thessaloniki and in the realm of Jewish communal memory, how these historical changes have affected the formulations of Jewish communal and individual identity and memory, and how Jewish memory relates to the general landscape of memory in contemporary Greece. In chapters one and two, I discuss the theoretical framework and methodology of this thesis. Discussions on ethnicity, nationalism, memory, and certain themes of the 'anthropology of Greece' form the theoretical background of this study. The methodology applied consists of ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviewing. Chapter three presents a historical overview of the history of Thessaloniki and its Jewish community, and discusses the position of minorities in contemporary Greece. I describe the current structure and organisation of the community and look at some demographic developments of the Salonikan Jewish population in chapter four. I then proceed to a detailed account of the interviews which constitutes the main part of the thesis. Chapter five deals with the pre-war past, chapters six and seven with the experience of the war, and chapter eight with the post-war period. In chapter nine I look at perception of boundaries and notions of 'us' and 'them' among Salonikan Jews. In the conclusions, I examine the changes of post-war Jewish memorial practices in the context of the changing 'memory-scape' of the city of Thessaloniki.
Author(s): Rian, Dagfinn
Date: 2002
Author(s): Leventhal, Robert
Date: 2011
Abstract: In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
The influx of Jewish émigrés from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) since 1990 has altered the shape of Jewish life in Germany, and profoundly influenced the 105 Jewish communities of the Federal Republic. Between 1990 and 2005, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) had admitted 219,604 Jewish émigrés from the FSU, and could boast that it has the "fastest-growing Jewish population in the world." The restriction of the flow of Jewish émigrés from the FSU in 2005 as a direct result of new German immigration laws radically changed this situation. The intense immigration of Jews from the former Soviet States between 1990 and 2005 followed by a rather abrupt reversal in immigration policy reshaped the sense of Jewish community, memory, and identity in Germany. These shifts have placed pressure on both German-Jewish relations and relations within the Jewish communities. Certain basic assumptions concerning German-Jewish relations have been called into question on an unprecedented scale: the overwhelmingly positive view of Germany as an immigration destination for Jews; what it means to be Jewish in Germany; the very idea of a singular unitary Jewish community (Einheitsgemeinde) under the umbrella of the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland (Central Council of Jews in Germany) in post-Wall Germany; and, perhaps most significantly, the absolute, and hitherto unquestioned centrality of the Nazi Judeocide for the self-understanding of German Jews. Recent developments threaten both the unity of the Jewish communities themselves as well as the tremendous gains made in the ongoing, genuine public discussion of and confrontation with the Nazi past since the 1980s.

In this article, I suggest the sociocultural construction of a new Jewish identity or culture within the Jewish community in Germany and what might be referred to as a post-Holocaust sense of community, memory, and cultural identity within the Russian Jewish community, one that finds a powerful resonance in contemporary German culture more generally. The Jewish Museum of Munich, which was founded to be a museum of Jewish life in Munich and specifically not a Holocaust museum, is an example of precisely this sense of post-Holocaust identity formation and memory. The museum to be built in Cologne—scheduled to open in 2011 and designed by the same architects who designed Munich's museum, Wandel Hoefer Lorch & Hirsch—is another case in point. The simultaneous emergence of a new Russian Jewish émigré majority culture within the Jewish minority of Germany, and what I refer to as a "post-Holocaust sensibility," coincides with a broader marginalization and fragmentation of Jewish identity in Germany despite the growth in sheer numbers over the past two decades.

The approximately 10,000 Jews of Munich serve as both an exemplary model and as a demonstrative case-study of shifting Jewish identities in contemporary Germany. Like other Russian Jewish émigrés within Germany, they have their own complex histories and collective memories forged by years of repression and persecution under Stalinism and post-Soviet discrimination. In Munich, these émigrés have the additional task of becoming part of a Jewish community that has been especially challenged by historical precedents and recent developments within the community itself. Munich is a city of particularly conflicted postwar memory. Russian Jewish émigrés comprise approximately 75% of the Jewish population of Munich, and their integration into German society and the existing Jewish community is decisive if the Jewish community is to survive and grow. The official, stated intention at the outset of the programs enacted in 1991—the HumHAG (humanitärer Hilfsaktionen aufgenommene Flüchtlinge or Refugees Accepted as part of a Humanitarian Aid Program) and the so-called Kontingentflüchtlingsgesetz (Quota Refugees Act), which first made possible the mass immigration of Jews from the FSU into Germany—was ostensibly to rescue the Russian Jews from an oppressive situation, but the subtext was clearly to strengthen Germany's diminishing Jewish community of 28,000.

This study was conducted in the spring of 2007 with the assistance of advanced undergraduates fluent in German in the German Studies Program at the College of William and Mary as well as various members of the Jewish community very close to the situation: Rabbi Steven Langnas, Professor Michael...
Date: 2012
Abstract: La presente tesis doctoral constituye un estudio sociológico en profundidad de las comunidades judías contemporáneas de Cataluña y los entramados institucionales que se han erigido en torno a ellas. Todo el trabajo que se presenta tiene su origen en la siguiente pregunta de investigación: ¿por qué en los últimos veinte años aproximadamente se ha producido un proceso tan significativo de transformación y diversificación institucional y comunitaria en el caso de la colectividad judía de Cataluña sin que haya tenido lugar un gran crecimiento de esta población? El objetivo general de la investigación, concretado en diferentes objetivos específicos, es el de realizar un estudio sociológico en profundidad de las comunidades judías contemporáneas de Cataluña y de sus procesos de diversificación institucional y comunitaria a través del análisis de sus dinámicas de construcción y transmisión identitaria. La aproximación teórica general desde la que se ha elaborado esta investigación es la de la sociología de la religión, aunque ha sido necesario incorporar elementos de otros enfoques, como el análisis de las identidades nacionales, así como también aspectos específicos sobre la historia del judaísmo. Además, la multidimensionalidad que caracteriza tanto la identidad como la vivencia judías obligan a abandonar los esquemas analíticos tradicionales basados en supuestos derivados del cristianismo con el fin de ofrecer una comprensión más completa del objeto de estudio. Desde una perspectiva comprensiva, que se centra no sólo en los hechos objetivos, sino en la interpretación que las personas hacen de ellos, se ha elaborado un marco teórico que sirve de esquema de interpretación para entender la realidad empírica catalana. Éste se estructura en torno a un hilo conductor que hace referencia a los procesos de construcción y transmisión identitaria, a su concreción a nivel vivencial y comunitario y a su interconexión con el exterior de las comunidades. Es decir, partiendo de las ideas teóricas referidas a las concepciones del judaísmo y de la identidad judía (nivel simbólico), se llega a las formas concretas de vivir y experimentar esta pertenencia (nivel práctico), y, finalmente, de proyectarlas, tanto hacia dentro de la propia colectividad judía, como hacia fuera de ésta, hacia el entorno no judío (nivel práctico y simbólico). Del mismo modo, se incorpora la traslación institucional (nivel institucional) en que estas concepciones, vivencias y proyecciones se materializan. La propuesta metodológica que mejor se ajusta a las características del objeto de estudio y a los objetivos concretos planteados es una de carácter eminentemente cualitativo. Más concretamente, se ha planteado el enfoque narrativo como el eje central de la propuesta metodológica, ya que permite captar las narraciones que las personas elaboran de su propia experiencia, y éste se ha complementado con otras aportaciones. De este modo, la tesis, que consiste en un estudio de caso (la colectividad judía catalana) con comparación de subcasos (las cuatro comunidades judías), articula de forma complementaria tres técnicas de recogida de la información: las entrevistas en profundidad, las observaciones directas, y el análisis de documentación diversa. Las aportaciones más significativas de la tesis son las siguientes: - La constatación de una fuerte diversificación institucional y comunitaria del mundo judío catalán en los últimos veinte años, que se ve plasmada en un trabajo de mapeo que identifica y caracteriza las comunidades, entidades y asociaciones judías existentes en Cataluña en la actualidad. - La explicación de esta diversificación a través del análisis de las diferentes concepciones, vivencias y proyecciones del judaísmo y de la identidad judía encontradas entre la población objeto de estudio. - La identificación de las principales divergencias entre comunidades judías, erigidas principalmente en torno a diferencias religiosas y a la mutua concesión o denegación de legitimidad. - La conclusión de que los procesos de transformación institucional y comunitaria que han sido estudiados constituyen, en definitiva, la consolidación de la colectividad judía institucionalizada o, dicho de otro modo, la institucionalización de la diversidad

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