Search results

Your search found 6 items
Sort: Relevance | Topics | Title | Author | Publication Year
Home  / Search Results
Date: 2021
Abstract: With Finnish independence in 1917, long-awaited legislative reforms were put in force in the country. Jews gained the right to obtain Finnish citizenship. The same year, the Finnish Parliament implemented the Civil Marriage Act (CMA), allowing the country’s Jewish citizens to marry non-Jews without converting to Christianity. In 1922, the constitutional right to freedom of religion was affirmed in the Freedom of Religion Act (FRA), granting the right to practice religion in public and private and allowing Finnish citizens to refrain from belonging to any religious community altogether. The FRA also addressed the question of children whose parents belonged to different religious congregations or who were unaffiliated. The FRA defined the religious affiliation of children after their father; this was, however, against the Orthodox Jewish law (halakhah) that the local Finnish Jewish communities wished to follow, which traced a child’s religious affiliation matrilineally.

Due to the small size of the Jewish marriage market and to the secularizing tendencies of the Jewish congregations, the number of intermarriages started to grow in the early twentieth century, and soon, they became a characteristic phenomenon of Finnish Jewish realities. This resulted in a growing number of halakhically non-Jewish children. Thus, the communities faced several challenges in terms of their administration and everyday practices.

This article-based dissertation provides an overview of Finnish-Jewish intermarriages from 1917 until the present by analyzing archival materials together with newly collected semi-structured ethnographic interviews. The interviews were conducted with members of the communities who are partners in intermarriages, either as individuals who married out or as individuals who married in and converted to Judaism. The key theoretical underpinning of the study is vernacular religion, which is complemented by relevant international research on contemporary interreligious Jewish families.

The results of the study show that while most informants understand Jewish law flexibly and rarely consider themselves “religious,” the differences between the practices of intermarried men and women are remarkable. Whereas women employ creativity and “do Judaism” to establish practices they consider meaningful for their Jewishness and Jewish identity, men tend to draw on their cultural heritage and often refrain from creative practices. The study also indicates that the adult conversion of women is far more common than that of men, making conversion a gendered phenomenon in the Finnish Jewish communities. Most informants of this study “do Judaism” in various ways and often choose to perform certain traditions to strengthen their connection to Judaism and ensure Jewish continuity through their children. Intermarried members and converts form a large part of the Finnish Jewish communities, and thus the results shed light on patterns that can be assumed to characterize multiple Finnish Jewish households.
Date: 2020
Date: 2020
Date: 2016
Abstract: The conditions of social life that are reflected in the conditions leading to the formation of the individual’s identity may be changing due to the influences of postmodernity. In Finland today, Jews form a small minority group within the borders of secularized Lutheranism. How does the Finnish Jewry cope with the constant transformation of social values in this context? How does Jewishness appear in their self-perception and in their daily lives? The purpose of this thesis is investigate how members of the Jewish Community of Helsinki view Judaism in their own lives and in their community and how do they observe the rules of the Halakhah – the Jewish law. This work provides an introduction to traditional perspectives of the questions that are often topics of debates in postmodern Jewish communities. In one sentence: How do they Jew in public and private life in modern Finland?

The research was put into practice by combining quantitative and qualitative methods, including a quantitative questionnaire that was distributed to all 777 adult members of the community and personal interviews with 8 individuals among them. Both the qualitative and the quantitative research questions explored issues of Jewish life and traditions as well as attitudes towards the most common Jewish issues in contemporary Finland.

The results showed that the vast majority of the respondents strongly identify as Jews. They have loyalty towards their Jewish heritage, but also feel a strong sense of belonging to Finland. They are generally lenient towards Halakhah, and despite being members of the Modern-Orthodox community, they do not necessarily live orthodox Jewish lifestyles according to the traditional – orthodox – perspective.