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Turning the Kaleidoscope

Turning the Kaleidoscope: Perspectives on European Jewry

Sandra Lustig
Ian Leveson
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Turning the Kaleidoscope
    Book Description:

    Far from being a blank space on the Jewish map, or a void in the Jewish cultural world, post-Shoah Europe is a place where Jewry has continued to develop, even though it is facing different challenges and opportunities than elsewhere. Living on a continent characterized by highly diverse patterns of culture, language, history, and relations to Jews, European Jewry mirrors that kaleidoscopic diversity. This volume explores such key questions as the new roles for Jews in Europe; models of Jewish community organization in Europe; concepts of diaspora and galut; a European-Jewish way of life in the era of globalization; and European Jews' relationship to Israel and to non-Jews. Some contributions highlight experiences of Jews in Britain, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. Helping us to understand the special and common characteristics of European Jewry, this collection offers a valuable contribution to the continued rebuilding of Jewish life in the postwar era.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-579-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Sandra Lustig and Ian Leveson
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Sandra Lustig and Ian Leveson

    Being Jewish, in Europe, in Diaspora, as a minority, today: these themes are at the centre ofTurning the Kaleidoscope – Perspectives on European Jewry. The contributions to this book address, more particularly, the following questions. How can we delineate our collective Jewish identity while honouring the differences in the ways we live as Jews? What does living in Diaspora, and choosing to do so, mean for us? How do we perceive ourselves as European Jews, as distinct from Israeli or North American Jews? How has European Jewry developed since the rupture of theShoah? How do we relate to...

  5. Part I: Overarching Questions

    • Chapter 1 A New Role for Jews in Europe: Challenges and Responsibilities
      (pp. 27-40)
      Diana Pinto

      Never in Europe’s millennial history have Jews on this continent lived in such individual and collective freedom and well-being as today. More than fifty years after theShoahand at the close of this most terrible of centuries, Jews in Europe stand at the crossroads, just as Europe itself does. They must come to terms with their own conflicting emotions in order to rethink their role and future in a radically transformed continent. From Portugal to Russia, from Norway to Greece, Jews now belong along with their fellow European citizens to a geographic space which is no longer torn asunder...

    • Chapter 2 European Models of Community: Can Ambiguity Help?
      (pp. 41-62)
      Clive A. Lawton

      In this chapter, I shall present a theory in progress. For every point made, there are counter-points as yet under-researched or considered. And so this essay stands as a start, and not as the last word, on the place and form of European Jewry in the twenty-first century.

      Furthermore, I am conscious of writing as a British Jew, necessarily with a more optimistic attitude to life in Europe than those more closely and deeply scarred by theShoahare likely to have. But I still insist on the possibility that, in the same way as Britain likes to believe that...

    • Chapter 3 Concepts of Diaspora and Galut
      (pp. 63-78)
      Michael Galchinsky

      Jews tend to think they know what it means to live in Diaspora. After all, Jewish tradition invented the concept, Jewish people lived the concept, and Jewish scholars and writers elaborated the concept during 2,500 years of dispersion throughout the world. Who should know what Diaspora means if not the Jews? Yet this assumption that Jews already know the meaning of Diaspora may cause them to ignore important recent developments in the concept, and they may miss out on information they need.

      The dissolution of the European colonial empires, the development of information technology, easy and cheap mass transit, and...

    • Chapter 4 ‘Homo Zappiens’: A European-Jewish Way of Life in the Era of Globalisation
      (pp. 79-105)
      Lars Dencik

      A process of globalisation is permeating the world and shaping new life conditions in Western societies. This, of course, affects the Jews in Europe, too. But how? How – if at all – do they live as Jews in globalised modernity? Are there any particular ways that Jewsas Jewsare influenced by these ongoing transformations? How does European Jewry cope with the challenges of globalisation today? How are the identities of Jews in these societies transformed?

      Modernisation is part and parcel of modernity. Hence contemporaneous modernity is constantly replaced by the changes that further modernisation brings about.Postmodernisation is...

    • Chapter 5 Israel and Diaspora: From Solution to Problem
      (pp. 106-116)
      Göran Rosenberg

      The question ‘What is a Jew?’ or ‘Who is a Jew?’ is not only becoming increasingly difficult to consider and contemplate, but also increasingly embarrassing, sometimes sounding more like a joke or a provocation than a seriously meant inquiry. This is not because it is an unreasonable question, but, on the contrary, because the answers have become so diverse, so random, so self-contradictory and so vested with hidden meanings and agendas that it now can only be asked either by someone who is not interested in the answer or by someone who knows it – often – all too well....

  6. Part II: Inner-Jewish Concerns:: Rebuilding and Continuity

    • Chapter 6 Left Over – Living after the Shoah: (Re-)building Jewish Life in Europe. A Panel Discussion
      (pp. 119-146)

      This panel discussion took place in Berlin on 3 June 2001, at Bet Debora, the Second Conference of European Female Rabbis, Cantors, Jewish Activists, and Scholars.¹ The theme of the conference was ‘The Jewish Family – Myth and Reality’, and this panel discussion explored issues of rebuilding Jewish life in Europe after the Shoah, with the conference theme in mind.² Even though the Jewish experience in each European country is unique, several parallel situations have emerged, and Jews in the various countries have responded differently. A whole web of interlinking issues appeared: Do we feel safe, physically and emotionally? How...

    • Chapter 7 Debora’s Disciples: A Women’s Movement as an Expression of Renewing Jewish Life in Europe
      (pp. 147-163)
      Lara Dämmig and Elisa Klapheck

      In 1999 we hosted a conference of European women rabbis, women cantors, rabbinically educated, and interested Jewish women and men. This was the first time in Europe after the Shoah that the renewal of Jewish life was discussed from a Jewish women’s perspective.

      Why women?

      Put differently: did history pass by us Jewish women in Germany, in Europe, and are we just catching up with what happened in the U.S. a long time ago?There, a Jewish women’s movement has existed since the 1970s; there, Rosh Chodesh groups had come into being where women experimented with their spirituality;there, a...

    • Chapter 8 A Jewish Cultural Renascence in Germany?
      (pp. 164-176)
      Y. Michal Bodemann

      No social constituency in Germany today is as much subject to distortive representations as the Jews, representations fed in part by old-fashioned anti-Semitism, but to a far greater degree by the Jews’ ideological labour within the German national narrative and their ascribed role as labourers of memory within that narrative. The distortive imaginations of the Jew undoubtedly have put their mark on contemporary Jewry in Germany and have shaped much that is being written on this topic; there are, however, also internal developments, relatively independent of the Jews’ role for the German state, that have shaped its overall character. It...

  7. Part III: The Jewish Space in Europe

    • Chapter 9 The Jewish Space in Europe
      (pp. 179-186)
      Diana Pinto

      Sixty years after post-war Europe relegated theShoahto the realm of private Jewish suffering, or buried it publicly in a sea of anti-fascist rhetoric, Jewish themes, references, and life now occupy centre stage in ways that seemed unimaginable even twenty years ago. Across Europe, it has become impossible to open a newspaper without reading about some aspect either of the Jewish past or increasingly of the Jewish present. This interest goes well beyond the recent controversies over dormant Swiss bank accounts, Nazi gold, unpaid insurance claims, art spoliations, slave labour, or the last trials of Nazi collaborators. It transcends...

    • Chapter 10 Caught between Civil Society and the Cultural Market: Jewry and the Jewish Space in Europe. A Response to Diana Pinto
      (pp. 187-204)
      Ian Leveson and Sandra Lustig

      ‘The Jewish Space’ has come to be an accepted term in the discourse about Jewish life in Europe today. We refer, of course, to Diana Pinto’s chapters ‘The Jewish Space in Europe’ and ‘A New Role for Jews in Europe: Challenges and Responsibilities’, both in this volume. Gruber (1996: 1) wrote about ‘Filling the Jewish Space in Europe’ in 1996, and Pinto has been using the term at least since the conference onPlanning for the Future of European Jewryin Prague in 1995. In 1994, Bodemann wrote of a ‘Judaizing terrain’ (Bodemann 1994: 57).

      While Pinto sees the Jewish...

    • Chapter 11 ‘The Germans Will Never Forgive the Jews for Auschwitz’. When Things Go Wrong in the Jewish Space: The Case of the Walser–Bubis Debate
      (pp. 205-222)
      Sandra Lustig

      The Jewish Space can be a place for encounters between Jews and non-Jews that enhance mutual understanding about things Jewish. But things can also go terribly wrong in the Jewish Space. It can be like a magnifying glass (where the complexities of Jewish–non-Jewish relationships become visible, or come into focus) and a burning glass (where conflicts in those relationships flare up). In this chapter, just one example – the Walser-Bubis debate of 1998/9 – is analysed in order to illustrate the intricacies of the interactions between Jews and non-Jews in the Jewish Space in post-ShoahEurope, which otherwise would...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 223-226)
  9. Index
    (pp. 227-242)