The long silent revolution: capturing the life stories of Soviet-Jewish migrants to the West, 1970–2010
Topics: Main Topic: Demography and Migration, Russian Emigration, Russian-Speaking Jews, Aliyah, Oral History and Biography
Abstract: How can the prism of self-reflection help scholars see the mass exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union and its successor states in new ways? This article discusses the first effort to collect the life stories of the 1.6 million Jews and their non-Jewish relatives who left the former Soviet Union between 1970 and 2000. Believing that autobiographical essays elicits a unique perspective on Russian Jewish migration that would otherwise not be known, the authors set out to collect autobiographical materials from members of this last wave of Russian-Jewish migration through autobiography contests modeled after contests run by Max Weinreich and the YIVO Institute in the early twentieth century. Through its discussion of the two winning autobiographies collected through the contests, the article demonstrates why the full social scientific study of the role Russian Jewish migrants played in shaping Jewish history needs to pay heed to the voices and stories of regular migrants
Topics: Jewish Space, Jewish Heritage, Memory, Museums, Jewish Revival, Post-1989, Main Topic: Culture and Heritage
Jewish Space and the Beschneidungsdebatte in Germany: Multiculturalism, Ritual and Cultural Reproduction
Topics: Birth, Circumcision / Brit Milah, Anthropology, Ritual, Jewish Space, Multiculturalism, Main Topic: Other
Abstract: The concept of Jewish space, initially conceived by Diana Pinto as a unique European development, marked a critical shift in relations between Jews and non-Jews, the latter embracing a Jewish past as constitutive of their countries' own. The hoped-for European multiculturalism failed to blossom and Jewish space, in Pinto's assessment, has not born the fruit of its potential. To investigate the shortfall of Jewish space, this article examines the 2012 debate on ritual male circumcision in Germany (Beschneidungsdebatte) that drew contemporary Jewish practice into the public eye. Pinto's formulation is premised on a multicultural society that actively works to blunt intolerance, a condition whose fulfilment in contemporary Europe remains incomplete and uneven. Moreover, this attempt to extend the integration of history into memory was stymied by its lack of a living subject. While Jews constitute a long-standing minority population with a unique history in Germany, their success in establishing a shared Jewish space is tied to the broader project of tolerance and integration facing immigrant and minority groups in Western Europe.