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Date: 2022
Abstract: My thesis is an empirical study of young British Jews, exploring their experience of being Jewish, British, and male in society today given the fluid nature of each of these aspects of their identity. As society has changed over the last half century each of these aspects which had normative monocultural taken-for-granted expressions have been repeatedly deconstructed, examined and re-built, and I argue that in the process they have emerged as fluid entities. It is in negotiating these fluid aspects that today’s young male Jews ask, what does it mean to be a Jew, what does it mean to be British, and what does it mean to be male as they try to make sense of their lives. The method chosen for this study has been the in-depth interview which I conducted with a sample of 16 interviewees chosen to reflect the diverse range of religiosity, age and intellectual ability which is apparent in the heterogenous nature of the Anglo-Jewish community supplemented with a group discussion. I have produced an interview tool of overlapping coloured discs representing the three aspects I am studying as an aid for the interviewee to think and talk about themselves. I have transcribed the interviews and used constructionist thematic analysis to advance my argument. I argue that Jewishness is constructed between extremes of adherence to halachic requirement on one hand and a Jewishness experienced as cultural affinity to history, family, and tradition without recourse to halacha on the other hand. I argue that Britishness is being experienced between varying degrees of nationalistic localism against cosmopolitan liberalism played out against a backdrop of Britain contrasted with the rest of the world and also London against the rest of Britain. With regard to being male, I have rejected the view that masculinity is constructed in the inherently unstable terms of physicality against intellectualism. Instead, I argue that it is better considered as lying in a range between competitive hegemonic masculinity on the one hand against a cooperative model with which physicality and intellectualism can combine to produce a more stable and emotionally satisfying mode of living. I argue that young Jewish men inhabit a fluid three-dimensional matrix being aware of the pitfalls of particularism, xenophobia, and misogyny as they negotiate their relationships with their families, communities, and wider society to construct their Jewish British masculine identity.
Author(s): Ockova, Katarina
Date: 2020
Abstract: This thesis, based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, examines the entanglement of kinship, religion and politics among Jews in Bratislava. It uses marriage as a lens to explore how young Jews identify with their often newlydiscovered Jewishness and secure its socio-cultural reproduction into the future. Studying the lived experience of three generations of Slovak Jews – Holocaust survivors, their children, and grandchildren – I describe the intergenerational transmission of knowledge about Jewishness and Jewish heritage, marital preferences and practices, and choices and decisions involved in the upbringing of children in the context of changing political regimes. I focus in particular on the generation of Jews who reached adulthood after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, and explore how their families’ memories and experiences of the Holocaust and Socialist persecution, as well as the current socio-political situation and rising extremism influence the ways young Jews navigate their Jewishness – both within the Jewish community, and in the unpredictable non-Jewish public sphere. To demonstrate their allegiance to this community while keeping it hidden from non-Jews, I argue, young Jews stretch and shrink the boundary between the ‘public’ and ‘private’, complicating the distinction between these categories, and allowing the emergence of new ‘publics’ and ‘privates’. The chronic uncertainty affecting Slovak Jews’ everyday lives exacerbates the fragility of trust, and underpins a constant need to negotiate their Jewishness across this elastic boundary, as well as within their intimate relations. The thesis sheds light on the role of social distinctions and processes of boundary-making and maintenance that characterise the politics of Jewishness in post-Socialist Slovakia. It shows how, for young Jews, discovering their Jewishness, demonstrating their devotion, and gaining recognition, is more a matter of becoming than of simply being Jewish
Author(s): Törning, Lenita
Date: 2021
Abstract: This thesis focuses on young Christians’, Jews’ and Muslims’ experiences of interfaith work in the UK and what impact(s) being involved in interfaith might have on their religious, social, ethical and political identities. It is situated in a growing academic and policy interest in interfaith work as a means to build cohesive communities, mitigate tension and conflicts, and encourage active citizenship. It also engages with still under-explored questions around how young people active in interfaith work are affected by this activism. The aim is not only to understand how and why young people from different religions are involved in interfaith work, but also the impact being involved in interfaith work might have on young people’s identities and sense of belonging. Focusing on the biographical accounts of young Christians, Jews and Muslims involved in three different interfaith organisations in UK, the thesis explores how the young people have become interested in interfaith work; the relationships, messages and contexts that have been important in forging this interest and activism; what interfaith work means to them socially, theologically, ethically and politically; and the challenges they have experienced with this form of faith-based engagement. Drawing on Kate Tilleczek’s ‘complex cultural nesting approach’, this thesis attends to the young people’s complex personal experiences of interfaith work and the different social actors, contexts and frameworks that have been important in forming this interest. The thesis shows that, to understand young people’s interfaith work, we need a multidimensional approach that considers social and theological dimensions in young people’s lives; look at how interfaith work is a means to fulfil social and political goals, but also forms of theological commitment; and explore how challenges facing interfaith work inform young people’s experiences in different ways, particularly theological, social and political tension in relation to interfaith space, religious congregations and British society at large.
Author(s): Kranz, Dani
Date: 2021
Date: 2020
Abstract: Growing up Jewish in Poland presents the findings of a study about the developmental trajectories of 17 children and adolescents from 14 families living in Poland who attended the Lauder-JDC International Jewish Youth Camp Szarvas (Hungary) for the first time at the time of the study (2015-2018). Resorting to a longitudinal analysis, the present study aims to examine what happens, over a period of three years, to a group of Jewish boys and girls that have experienced a Jewish summer camp for the first time in summer 2015. The study focused on the role that the summer camp itself plays in shaping a proactive Jewish life but also analyzed more globally other aspects that influence Jewish participation. What are the main factors that affect Jewish participation both on the kid’s and on the parents’ perspective? What are the possible “Jewish” trajectories of 13-to-16-year-old teenagers in Central Eastern Europe? Do they keep connected with Jewish life? If yes, how? What’s their scale of values? What are their priorities, their hopes, and their perceived future as they make their way from teenagehood to young adults?

The main methodological feature of this study lies in it being a qualitative, longitudinal, observational cohort study. In contrast to most studies that explore development retrospectively, this study involved interviewing first-time Szarvas campers and their families over a longer period, with up to three consecutive interviews per family over a period of three years. To our knowledge, this research experience is unique in Jewish Europe.
Date: 2018
Abstract: This article is about new identities experienced by Russian Jews and the construction of the Jewish community. Jewish identity in the Soviet Union was based solely on ethnicity. Soviet passports contained the graph of ethnicity and Jews were considered to be a nationality. It is important to stress on the fact that Jewish identity in the Soviet Union can be characterised as a negative one. It was through the State antisemitism that Jews were defined, being suppressed and discriminated in the social field. With the collapse of The Soviet Union, the situation changed dramatically: those who had been discriminated obtained a rare opportunity to reconstruct their Jewish identity through religion, the rebirth of Jewish
tradition and equal rights with the rest of the population. With all that, the auto-definition through ethnicity still persist, among the young generation as well as among the older ones. The quantitative part of my research shows that around 50% of respondents suppose that it is one’s parentage that defines one’s jewishness. In this work I also pay attention to family
transmission and collective memory and their contribution to the construction of new types of identities. I show that the identity the young generation obtained from their parents needed to be developed in the new post-soviet reality. So, they have transformed the “passive”, negative
Soviet-time identity into new ones, religious or secular, - the principal point is that they are “active”. The construction of active identity demands the construction of the environment, the community. In the second part of the article I demonstrate the way this community functions in social, cultural and political spheres. I take the president elections of 2018 in Russia as an example of community act, following the possible trajectories of vote as well as problematizing the existence of community vote among Jews on contemporary Russia. Within the framework of the research I took 20 interviews with Jews from different types of communities: the orthodox communities, the reformist one, as well as from so called “secular Jews” attending events in various Jewish clubs and organisations. I also distributed a questionnaire (100 answers) containing questions on the two basic topics of the research: the construction of Jewish identities and the political identity of the respondents.
Author(s): Schaum, Ina
Date: 2018
Abstract: Im Zentrum des Dissertationsprojektes steht die empirisch verankerte Erarbeitung einer intersektionellen, feministischen Theorie von Liebe und Liebesbeziehungen als Orte des Doing Gender in Verschränkung mit Doing Being Jewish (Jüdischsein) bzw. mit Doing Being German (Deutschsein). Was Jüdischsein und Deutschsein bedeutet und wie es konzeptualisiert werden kann, soll durch die Erhebung narrativer Interview empirisch rekonstruiert werden.

Die Dissertation hat zwei Ausgangspunkte. Der erste ist, sich Liebe als eigenständigem Forschungsgegenstand feministischer Analyse zuzuwenden. In Liebesbeziehungen – als verkörperlichte Erfahrungen von Liebe und Begehren, Macht und Dominanz – werden Geschlechterverhältnisse und andere Ungleichverhältnisse und damit zusammenhängend vergeschlechtlichte Arbeitsteilungen von care work und emotional work (re)produziert, verändert, aufgehoben oder legitimiert. Der zweite Ausgangspunkt ist die Feststellung von Kurt Grünberg in seiner Studie „Liebe nach Auschwitz“ (2000), dass Liebesbeziehungen den wohl intimsten Kontakt zwischen Nachkommen von Überlebenden der Shoah und Nachkommen von Täter*innen, Mitläufer*innen und Nazi-Sympathisant*innen im Land der Täter*innen und Opfer bilden. Vor dem Hintergrund der Shoah und der Nürnberger Gesetze von 1935, welche das sogenannte „Blutschutzgesetz“ und das Verbot von Eheschließungen und Geschlechtsverkehr zwischen Juden/Jüdinnen* und Nicht-Juden/Jüdinnen* umfassten, ist zu fragen, welche Gefühlserbschaften und Erinnerungen (active memory) an die Folgegenerationen weitergegeben werden und wie intime Beziehungen und Liebesbeziehungen davon (nicht) beeinflusst werden. Die beiden Ausgangspunkte sollen miteinander verknüpft werden, um eine kritische, intersektionelle feministische Analyseperspektive in Bezug auf Liebesbeziehungen als auch auf die komplexen Differenz- und Identitätskonstruktionen von Jüdischsein und Deutschsein einzunehmen.

Außerdem sollen forschungsethische Überlegungen in Hinblick auf Theoriebildungsprozesse, Methodenentwicklung und Ergebnisdarstellung im Kontext der „negativen deutsch-jüdischen Symbiose“ (Diner 1986) einerseits und einer feministischen Epistemologie des „situierten Wissens“ (Haraway 1988) andererseits entwickelt werden, da die individuelle, familiäre und soziale Verstrickung mit dem Nationalsozialismus keine Position der Unbeteiligtheit zulässt und eine reflektierte und selbstkritische Positionierung von mir als Forscherin verlangt.
Date: 2018
Abstract: Problems of religious and ethnic identity are especially pertinent for people of Jewish heritage in post-Soviet states. Radical changes of the 20th century made the society more secular, put distinctions between definitions of being “Jew” and “Judaist”; the number of mixed marriages grew, and the young generations now learn traditions not from parents but from public lectures in Jewish communities. In this paper we have tried to find out what has brought young people to the Jewish community of Smolensk, why they choose to remain there, and whether they consider themselves Jewish. We have been especially interested in understanding how much does religious identity influence the choice of ethnic identity, and vice versa.

The research is based on 8 in-depth interviews collected during Sefer Center’s trip to Smolensk Oblast in 2016. The interviewees were selected according to the following criteria: regular visits to the synagogue (twice a month or more) and age between 14 and 35.

The working hypothesis is that the number, the frame of mind, and the identity of the young people who visit the synagogue are influenced by the following factors: 1) ethnic and religious identity of the family members and close people of the respondents and their disposition towards various confessions and ethnicities; 2) the rabbi’s policy in ethnic issues and traditions, how loyal he is to rule bending and now active he is in attracting the youth to the synagogue; 3) the environment: the influence of historically significant places of Smolensk Oblast and memories of remarkable historical events that occurred on its territory.

After analyzing the data we have drawn the following conclusions. The main reason for the interviewees to choose the Jewish identity is the prevailing of such identity in their parents. For those whose parents are both Jewish this argument is sufficient. If only parent is Jewish, a young person starts seeking for additional arguments to “allow” himself/herself be Jewish. Such reasons may be their sympathy towards Judaism and/or Jewish customs and the feeling of one’s “distinction”. Sometimes for the final integration into the Jewish environment the interviewees conduct Giyur or circumcision, the latter being not only for religious reasons. If the young people don’t feel such sympathies or don’t perform the special rituals for integration, they leave the community because they don’t feel enough “Jewishness” to remain there. The forming of one or another religious identity depends mostly on which identity is considered the right one in the family. Also, in contrast to ethnic identity, religious identity changes more often and is dependent on the person’s environment and period of time.

Thus, the working hypothesis has been confirmed in a number of points. 1) The forming of identities is indeed influenced by the identities of parents and social circles of the interviewees and the rabbi’s policy towards the youth and other members of the community. 2) It is also influenced to a lesser extent by which religious and ethnic identity is prevalent and considered normal in a particular region. Historical events and places have basically no influence on the identity formation.
Author(s): Abramson, Sarah J.
Date: 2010
Abstract: This dissertation is an exploration of the ways in which Jewish youth movements create, recreate and re-envision wider Jewish communal norms relating to authenticity, or what it means to be a `real' or `legitimate' Jew. The culmination of thirteen months participant observation fieldwork within one Jewish youth movement, as well as interviews with other youth movement leaders and archival research of one prominent British Jewish newspaper, I argue that the modem Orthodox Jewish Establishment in the United Kingdom has a strong grip on the concept of authenticity. The stakes for maintaining control over the boundary between the authentic and the inauthentic are high, as British Jewry is shrinking rapidly and education has been identified as the primary means by which to secure communal continuity. Consequently, Jewish formal education often supports particular (Orthodox) interpretations of Jewish authenticity, specifically in relation to communal pluralism, appropriate gender identifications and relationships with Zionism. However, these Orthodox expectations of authenticity are often incompatible with how many young British Jews today lead their lives. Youth movements are key sites in which the battle for continuity is being waged; British Jewish youth movements aim to create informal education agendas that inspire young people to create lifelong affiliations with Judaism. I contend that informal education has the necessary flexibility to disrupt (and thus redefine) the boundaries of Jewish authenticity. Specifically, the very pillars of Orthodox authenticity (pluralism, gender and Zionism) are beginning to be (re)- constructed in new and innovative ways by some movements. It is in this space, created through the negotiation of a movement's ethos and its simultaneous obligation to, or disregard for, communal (Orthodox) expectations, that the validation of `alternative' performances of Judaism is possible. In turn, such validation helps to associate authenticity with a fluid and context- dependent belief system that is more likely to secure communal continuity than the exclusive Orthodox system currently so predominant.
Editor(s): Meghnagi, Saul
Date: 2011
Date: 2011
Author(s): Larsson, Julia
Date: 2014
Abstract: Tavoitteet. Suomessa asuu pieni juutalainen vähemmistö, jonka olemassaoloa on jo pitkään uhannut ennen kaikkea sen jäsenten voimakas assimiloituminen. Suomen juutalaiset nuoret aikuiset, jotka melkein poikkeuksetta elävät seka-avioliitoissa, ovat seuraavan juutalaisen sukupolven kasvattajia. Siksi tässä tutkimuksessa pyritään ymmärtämään ja kuulemaan juuri näiden nuorten aikuisten käsityksiä juutalaisuudestaan ja kaksoisidentiteetistään. Toisin sanoen tutkimuksen avulla halutaan saada selville, mitä juutalaisuus merkitsee heille, jotka jatkavat juutalaisen vähemmistön perintöä. Maamme juutalaisten tapoja ja asenteita on aikaisemmin tutkinut Lundgren (2002) sekä Ruotsissa ja Tanskassa Dencik (1993, 2002). Työllä pyritään myös jatkamaan maassamme alkanutta keskustelua vähemmistöjen identiteettineuvotteluista ( Kuusisto 2011, Klingenberg 2014, Rissanen 2014).

Menetelmät. Tämä laadullinen monitapaustutkimus toteutettiin lähettämällä kysely postitse kaikille 137 vuosina 1976-1986 syntyneille Helsingin juutalaisen seurakunnan jäsenille. Kyselyyn vastasi 28 nuorta aikuista. Juutalaisuuden merkitystä Suomen juutalaisille nuorille aikuisille tutkittiin laadullisin keinoin, induktiivisella lähestymistavalla, joskin teoriaohjaavalla tutkimusotteella. Kaksoisidentiteettiä ja siten vastaajien akkulturaatioasenteita lähestyttiin Dencikin (1993) diasporajuutalaisen identiteettiä kuvaavan mallin avulla.

Tulokset ja johtopäätökset. Aineistolähtöisen sisällönanalyysin avulla selvisi, että juutalaisuus merkitsi vastaaajille ennen kaikkea Dencikin (1993) mallin Juutalaisuutta kokemuksien ja elämyksien tulkitsijana sekä yhteenkuuluvuutta kansaan. Tähän juutalaisuuden osa-alueeseen liittyi vastaajien itsensä sanoittamana juutalaisuuden kokeminen saamisena ja antamisena, elämäntapana sekä voimakkaana yhteenkuuluvuuden tunteena muihin juutalaisiin. Kaksoisidentiteetti puolestaan näyttäytyi tasapainoisena kokonaisuutena, jossa ollaan ennen kaikkea suomenjuutalaisia, toisin sanoen, vastaajat kokivat olevansa ensisijaisesti juutalaisia, joiden kotimaa on Suomi.
Date: 2010
Author(s): Bitter, David
Date: 2005
Abstract: Jewish identity and assimilation in modern times are two sides of the same coin - one cannot speak of one without the other. If we wish to understand what makes certain Jews set out on a path of assimilation, we must first understand what and how they think about Judaism and being Jewish. One of the most important tasks is to uncover their cognitive tendencies when reflecting on Judaism. It is also necessary to search for the affective/emotional components of their identity (or the rejection or denial thereof), and to analyze their habits, customs and social behavior.

When trying to outline assimilation trends and their causes, one should not only apply the "Jewish" point of view - however one interprets such a standpoint. We can get a clearer picture of the psychological and sociological aspects of Jewish identity by analyzing the relationship between various dimensions of an identity. For example, how does a person's cognitive approach to Judaism relate to his or her affective attachment? Or, how do the Jewish and the Hungarian ethnic identity dimensions relate to each other - do they supplement one another, "subtract" from each other, are they complementary, etc.?

In this paper, an indirect approach is applied to the analysis of assimilation. First, it presents and analyzes the most important aspects of the cognitive approach that characterizes young secular Jews. Then it discusses certain psychological aspects of the Jewish identity of young Hungarian Jews

The study is based on in-depth interviews with Jewish men and women in their 20's and 30's. It presents their opinions as well as their perception of their individual identity, and characterizes types of possible intervention.