Abstract: This article argues that a new understanding of “Jewishness” is emerging in post-communist Hungary, most clearly and visibly in the realm of popular culture. Global images of “Jewishness” and their local interpretations, which have become part of public culture since the fall of communism and especially with wider access to the internet, have shaped both popular discussions of “Jewishness” and Hungarian Jewish self-representations. These, in turn, are challenging the traditional Hungarian understanding of the meaning and place of “Jewishness” in Hungarian public life. Following a brief historical outline to help situate the current debate, I analyze four interpretations of “Jewishness” in contemporary Hungarian popular culture: an animated film, a blog, and two restaurants. I argue that they break with long-standing Hungarian discursive and political traditions and suggest a new, more open take on “Jewishness” based on the notion of “ethnic culture.”
The Acculturation of the Kindertransport Children: Intergenerational Dialogue on the Kindertransport Experience
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Holocaust Survivors, Holocaust Survivors: Children of, Age and Generational Issues, Dialogue
Abstract: Dialogue in the lives of the first, second, and third generation of the Kindertransport is the focus of this essay, in which the author first highlights background factors in understanding the "narrative history" as distinct from the "factual history" of the Kindertransport. This is followed by an exploration of insights into the role that dialogue in various forms, including its absence, may have played in the pre-separation and post-separation phases of the Kindertransportees' lives. The author looks at a few general features in the dialogue of Kindertransportees with each other and then at some central themes in intergenerational dialogue between first, second, and third generations of the Kindertransport. Ultimately the text suggests that what can be learned from such dialogues might be of use to research and to those involved in the care of separated children today
Abstract: The subject of this essay is the attempt of a new generation of Russian Jews to reestablish Jewish identity through the writing and publishing of Jewish cookbooks. After looking at ways in which Russian and Russian-Jewish foodways diverge, and then at ways in which Russian-Jewish cookbooks differ from representative post-Soviet ethnic cookbooks, the essay turns to the peculiarities of the books themselves. The books are very serious, and in a way impersonal: there is not a single reference to families or place or past life; there's not a single joke. Many refer in their introductions to loss and to the difficulty of rediscovery. All have great difficulty with kashruth.
Topics: Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Jewish Heritage, Religious Observance and Practice, Anusim / Crypto-Jews / Marranos, Family and Household, Sephardi Jews
Abstract: Although occasional lists of contemporary crypto-Jewish practices specific to one region or another have appeared, the phenomenon continues to be treated as isolated to one or two locations. This paper surveys aspects of heritage observed and reported by descendents of anusim worldwide. The material was collected over the last seven years through observation, interviews, conversations and correspondence—traditional and electronic—with over three hundred informants. Places where specific customs were reported with some frequency are mentioned and sources to evaluate the connection to Judaism are also provided. Constellations of observances are illustrated with the description of three crypto-Jewish families.
The Remembered One: Memory Activism and the Construction of Edith Stein's Jewishness in Post-Communist Wrocław
Topics: Main Topic: Holocaust and Memorial, Memory, Memorial, Jewish - Christian Relations, Post-1989
Abstract: Activists throughout Poland have been grappling with the problems of representing Poland's Jewish community since the collapse of communism in 1989. These "memory activists" choose particular objects of memory and particular pathways of memorialization. This article focuses on the remembrance of Edith Stein in the city of Wrocław. It argues that the memory activist approach of "cultural reconciliation" is, in the case of Stein, problematic in that it relies on a misreading of Stein's Jewishness. The article makes a case for an alternative "borderland" approach that acknowledges the persistent role of violence in the construction of identitites and cultures.
Yiddish, Kanak Sprak, Klezmer, and HipHop: Ethnolect, Minority Culture, Multiculturalism, and Stereotype in Germany
Topics: Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Jewish Music, Klezmer, Antisemitism, Race, Ethnicity, National Identity, Jewish - Non - Jewish Relations
Abstract: Minority and immigrant Germans' embrace of the derogatory term Kanake as a self-ascription and of the low-status ethnolect Kanak Sprak has been compared to US rappers' combative use of "niggah" and Black English. This essay, however, compares the revaluation of the term Kanake, a non-assimilatory Kanak identity, and the ethnolect Kanak Sprak to some early 20th century German Jews' revaluation and embrace of Eastern European Jewish culture and Yiddish. It demonstrates also how non-minority and non-Jewish Germans have used Yiddish and Kanak Sprak in literature, theater, film, and popular culture to re-inscribe ethnic difference, especially at times when minorities and Jews were becoming indistinguishable from non-minority Germans (emancipation edicts or nationality law reform). Because Kanak Sprak is inseparable from HipHop culture, the second half of the essay examines the many parallels between the importation and naturalization of German HipHop and German Klezmer. Both were imported from the United States in the early 1980s; and following the fall of the Berlin Wall and German re-unification, both have played a role in German Vergangenheitsbewältigung [mastering the past]. While HipHop and Klezmer have become the soundtrack of German anti-racism, anti-Nazism, and multiculturalism; some observers are critical of non-minority and non-Jewish Germans' appropriation or instrumentalization of ethnic music, and have cited instances of antisemitism and racism in German Klezmer and HipHop.
Forget Israel - the Future is in Berlin! Local Jews, Russian Immigrants, and Israeli Jews in Berlin and Across Germany
Topics: Immigration, Russian-Speaking Jews, Israeli Expatriates, Russian Emigration, Israel-Diaspora Relations, Diaspora, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: It goes against the intuition of some, triggers strong responses from others, and still raises the eyebrows of many: not only did Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) and German Jews withstand attempts to entice them to make aliyah from Germany post-Shoah and become “local Jews,” but also Russian Jews immigrated in higher numbers to Germany than to Israel for a while, and now Israeli Jews are immigrating to Germany, too. Yet do Jews in Germany see themselves in exile from Israel, or has Germany become their home of choice? This paper explores the life-worlds of a select number of individuals who fall into the age cohort of the Third Generation, and who form part of the three numerically largest groups: German Jews and Displaced Persons (DPs) and their descendants (“local Jews”); Russian Jews and their children who came to Germany in the 1990s; and Israelis who started arriving in significant numbers in the 2000s. By depicting their life-worlds, the paper sheds light onto how Jews in the country structure, live, do, experience, and contend their Jewishness collectiveness, and express Jewishnessess individually, and how, effectively, they create diasporic life-worlds, and have a special relationship to Israel but hardly feel in exile from Israel.