This survey of contemporary issues in Ukrainian Jewish life provides detailed information on the following topics: contemporary Ukrainian political and economic climate; Jewish history; Jewish demography; contemporary antisemistism; indigenous Jewish leadership; the role of international Jewish organizations; and Ukrainian national Jewish organizations.
The Second World War, and the Holocaust, brought this project to its end, laying bare the contradiction at its heart. Outsiders could not be assimilated since their loyalty was, by definition, always voluntary and therefore always seen as untrustworthy. As the historical epitome of the European outsider, Jews accordingly remained suspect despite all their ingenious efforts to assimilate. They experienced first-hand the ambivalence of the assimilatory drive, which was, from their point of view, to become like everyone else, and, from their hosts’ point of view, to deepen belonging by emphasizing difference.
Nowhere were the challenges and miseries of this process more pronounced than in the demographically complex nations of East-Central Europ. With the disappearance of Eastern European Jewry, the drama of Jewish assimilation came to an end.
In post-war Europe Jewish assimilation has, with the demise of the crusading spirit of nationalism, dissolved into a mundane and generalized show of conformity that runs alongside postmodernity’s emphasis on a seemingly infinite variety of privatized identities and choices. The sting has been taken out of Jewish assimilation, not because it was achieved, but because the life-and-death pressures to homogenize are no longer there.
Those few generations of European Jews who were forced to wrestle with the contradictions of assimilation were arguably the pioneers of the postmodern condition, making visible the ambiguities that mark contemporary existence for all Europeans. It is this that counts as the Jews’ most profound contribution to contemporary European culture.
At the heart of this book are explorations of the contradictions that appear in different forms of cultural memory: literary texts, memoirs, oral histories, biographies, films, and heritage tourism packages. Tabea Alexa Linhard identifies depictions of the difficulties Jews faced in Spain and Northern Morocco in years past as integral to the survival strategies of Spanish Jews, who used them to make sense of the confusing and harrowing circumstances of the Spanish Civil War, the Francoist repression, and World War Two.
Jewish Spain takes its place among other works on Muslims, Christians, and Jews by providing a comprehensive analysis of Jewish culture and presence in twentieth-century Spain, reminding us that it is impossible to understand and articulate what Spain was, is, and will be without taking into account both "Muslim Spain" and "Jewish Spain.""