Topics: Jewish Space, Jewish Heritage, Memory, Museums, Jewish Revival, Post-1989, Main Topic: Culture and Heritage
Transcending Locality, Creating Identity — A Diasporic Perspective on the Mediterranean: the Jews of Gibraltar
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.
Abstract: Is the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin a Jewish space? How are Jews presented there? What are the points of interest about Jews in the memorial from the perspective of the foundation that runs it as well as from various visitors' perspectives? This article focuses on interaction and performance at the memorial, an understudied topic in comparison to what the memorial presents in its installation and the debates that preceded its realisation. I argue that the memorial's form and location create interpretation strategies that are based on the dialectics of representation and non-representation, emotional experience versus knowledge about the Holocaust. This is differently manifested in the action of various groups visiting the memorial. Interpretation strategies rest on Jews being a category of memory. In substantiating this claim, I focus on the experience of German visitors, compared to that of Jewish visitors and claim that whereas Jews' experience of the site is directly linked to sharing intimate knowledge about the Holocaust, Germans tend to talk about the site metaphorically and in emotional terms, confirming the memorial's own ontology.
'Jewish' Ethnic Options in Germany between Attribution and Choice: Auto-ethnographical Reflections at the Jewish Museum Berlin
Abstract: This article explores the issue of ethnic attributions versus options pertaining to Jewishness in Germany. The methodology is a combination of standard ethnographic fieldwork with Berlin-based high-school students before, during and after visits to the Jewish Museum Berlin (JMB) and auto-ethnography detailing and analysing my own experiences in and outside of the research sites. My goal is to illustrate particularities of interactions in sites like the JMB by contrasting the way in which Jewishness is handled in and outside of the standardised research situation. Further, the material points to continuities between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. My analysis aims to open up further, productive discussion on this point.
Topics: Jewish Museums, Holocaust Memorials, Multiculturalism, Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Educational Tours, German-Jewish Relations
Abstract: The Jewish Museum Berlin (JMB) is a dynamic, performative space that negotiates between representing the Jew as an integral part of German history and as ultimate Other. While this tension has been documented through the political history of the museum (Lackmann 2000; Pieper 2006; Young 2000), we focus on the dynamics of guided tours and special events. We claim that guiding and festival events at JMB marginalise Holocaust memory and present an image of Jews of the past that promotes a multicultural vision of present-day Germany. In guiding performances, the identity of the guide as German/Jewish/Muslim is part of the guiding performance, even when not made explicit. By comparing tour performances for various publics, and the 'storytelling rights' granted by the group, we witness how visitors' scripts and expectations interact with the museum's mission that it serve as a place of encounter (Ort der Begegnung). As German-Jewish history at JMB serves primarily as a cosmopolitan template for intercultural relations, strongly affiliated local Jews may not feel a need for the museum. Organised groups of Jews from abroad, however, visit it as part of the Holocaust memorial landscape of Berlin, while many local Jews with weaker affiliations to the Jewish community may find it an attractive venue for performing their more fluid Jewish identities – for themselves and for others.
Topics: Jewish Space, Jewish Neighbourhoods, Jewish Heritage, Cities and Suburbs, Jewish Culture, Main Topic: Culture and Heritage
Abstract: The persecution, flight and murder of European Jews in the first half of the twentieth century and the profound social and political transformations that decisively affected European cities in the final decade of the 20th century have radically altered urban 'Jewish landscapes'. New stakeholders and institutions emerged with their own networks, goals and interests, and have constructed, staged and marketed 'Jewish culture' anew. The resultant Jewish spaces are being constituted in an urban space located at the intersection of ethnic representation, collective memory, and drawing on an imagined material culture, which includes architectural, physical and digital spaces (e.g. synagogues, Jewish quarters). This Europe-wide process is closely related to the delicate politics of memory and to discourses on the authenticity of cities. This article analyses how the image of 'Jewishness' plays an increasingly important role in the marketing of historical authenticity that cities and their tourism affiliates are undertaking.
Topics: Singles, Jewish Space, Ethnography, Interviews, Jewish Community, Main Topic: Other, Young Adults / Emerging Adulthood
Abstract: In this article I am approaching the topic of Jewish dating among the young Russian-speaking Jews who live in Berlin. Using the analytical concept of space and applying grounded theory, I am presenting data I collected in 2010 using the methods of ethnographic interviews and participant observation. The article is organised around three main questions. Firstly, I am interested in the motivation of my interviewees, who are generally children of inter-ethnic and inter-religious couples, to find a solely Jewish partner. Secondly, I am asking for existing strategies applied within a relatively small Jewish community of around thirty to fifty thousand in Berlin in order to find a Jewish partner. Thirdly, I am looking for the concrete spaces and places used or constructed for the purpose of finding a Jewish girlfriend or boyfriend. Beside these empirical results, I am introducing the theoretical idea of Jewish niches, which is discussed against the background of 'Jewish space' as promulgated by Diana Pinto.