Jewish Identities in the New Europe

BookJewish Identities in the New Europe

Jewish Identities in the New Europe

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


March 1st, 1994





How do the Jews of Post-Holocaust, post-communist Europe—east and west—regard themselves? Do they perceive themselves as a religious minority, an ethnic group, or simply as ordinary members of the wider European cultures in which they live? How do they regard the wider non-Jewish community, and how do they relate to the Jews of other European countries? To what extent is Israel a factor in forging these relationships? The contributors to this book are authorities in their respective subjects, and all have significant international reputations. Together they cover a wide range of topics from different perspectives. Among the problems considered are: what the future holds for the Jews of Europe; what it means to be Jewish in the countries of eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, and Hungary are considered in detail by local experts); hopes and uncertainties in religious trends; and the likely development of interfaith relations, as seen by both Jews and Christians. A well-argued introduction identifies the points of convergence, the contradictions, and the myths implicit in the different analyses and teases out the main conclusions and implications. Authoritative and accessible, this book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to know about the contemporary concerns of the Jews of Europe. Published for the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. CONTRIBUTORS: Geoffrey Alderman, Max Beloff, Margaret Brearley, Julius Carlebach, Mikhail A. Chlenov, Sergio DellaPergola, Evyatar Friesel, Pier Francesco Fumagalli, Konstanty Gebert, Daniel Gutwein, András Kovács, Igor Krupnik, Norman Lamm, Jonathan Magonet, Elisabeth Maxwell, Stephen H. Miller, Jonathan Sacks, Dominique Schnapper, Eliezer Schweid, David Singer, Norman Solomon, Shmuel Trigano, Jonathan Webber, Robert S. Wistrich.

‘Webber’s introductory essay and his chapter on Jewish identity are particularly effective in highlighting the impact of a European environment on its Jews. Indeed, the reader encounters comparisons throughout the book that span countries and history, or is led to such comparisons by the different foci of the various articles. . . . Webber’ volume has the potential to stimulate further empirical research in Europe, as well as shedding light on the situation there for non-Europeans who tend to overlook that continent. Those who care about the future of the Jews and Judaism, whether it be in Europe or elsewhere, will find this a very welcome addition to the literature.’
Ephraim Tabory, Contemporary Jewry

‘A rich book, containing many interesting insights and observations . . . excellent introductory survey by Jonathan Webber.’
André W. M. Gerrits, Ethnic & Racial Studies

‘The twenty-four contributors to this excellent collection of essays are distinguished academic and spiritual leaders of present-day Jewry, mainly in Europe, who have devoted much thought to the problems confronting our people in the modern Western world. . . . The topics covered are varied and important.’
Miriam Kraus, Jerusalem Post

‘Timely . . . an impressive assortment of views, wide-ranging in their scope, analysing demographic, sociological and religious trends, surveying particular communities in Eastern and Western Europe, looking at inter-faith relations, and the role of Israel and the Holocaust in defining contemporary Jewish identity . . . interesting, informative and challenging.’
Valerie Monchi, Jewish Chronicle

‘Some of the essays in this volume seem already to have been overtaken by events, while other remain strikingly prescient. Taken as a whole, however, this book is a useful contribution to the contemporary debate over the nature of the new Europe, while offering valuable insights for the study of modern Jewish history.’
John D. Klier, Journal of European Studies

‘The strength of the compilation lies in the wide variety of viewpoints that originate not simply from Europe but also from Israel and the United States . . . the breadth of coverage in the 290 pages is remarkable . . . Readers interested in a particular approach or topic should scan the contents carefully and use them in conjunction with the concise biographical notes to pinpoint articles to meet their needs. They will be helped in this by Jonathan Webber’s comprehensive analytical introductory essay which also points straightforwardly to what is missing from the discussion.’
Marlena Schmool, Le'ela

Author Information

Jonathan Webber is a British social anthropologist. He taught Jewish studies at the universities of Oxford and Birmingham before taking up a professorship at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. He retired in 2016. He currently serves on the board of the Galicia Jewish Museum and is founding chair of the European Association for Holocaust Studies.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Preface and acknowledgements
Introduction - JONATHAN WEBBER
Part 1 A Changing Europe
1 The Jews of Europe in the Age of a New Völkerwanderung - MAX BELOFF
2 Changing Jewish Identities in the New Europe and the Consequences for Israel - ELIEZER SCHWEID
Part 2 Demographic and Sociological Considerations
3 An Overview of the Demographic Trends of European Jewry - SERGIO DELLAPERGOLA
4 Modern Jewish Identities - JONATHAN WEBBER
5 Judaism in the New Europe: Discovery or Invention? - NORMAN SOLOMON
Part 3 Hopes and Uncertainties in Religious Trends
6 The Jewish Jew and Western Culture: Fallible Predictions for the Turn of the Century - NORMAN LAMM
7 From Integration to Survival to Continuity: The Third Great Era of Modern Jewry - JONATHAN SACKS
8 The Role of the Rabbi in the New Europe - JONATHAN MAGONET
Part 4 Jewish Communities in Former Communist Countries
9 Jewish Communities and Jewish Identities in the Former Soviet Union - MIKHAIL A. CHLENOV
10 Constructing New Identities in the Former Soviet Union: The Challenge for Jews - IGOR KRUPNIK
11 Changes in Jewish Identity in Modern Hungary - ANDRAS KOVACS
12 Jewish Identities in Poland: New, Old, and imaginary - KONSTANTY GEBERT
Part 5 Jewish Communities in Western Europe
13 Israélites and Juifs: New Jewish Identities in France - DOMINIQUE SCHNAPPER
14 The Notion of a 'Jewish Community' in France: A Special Case of Jewish
15 British Jewry: Religious Community or Ethnic Minority? - GEOFFREY
16 Religious Practice and Jewish Identity in a Sample of London Jews - STEPHEN H. MILLER
17 Jewish Identity in the Germany of a New Europe - JULIUS CARLEBACH
Part 6 Rethinking Interfaith Relations in a Post-Holocaust World
18 The Dangers of Antisemitism in the New Europe - ROBERT S. WISTRICH
19 The Holocaust as a Factor in Contemporary Jewish Consciousness - EVYATAR
20 The Impact of Auschwitz and Vatican II on Christian Perceptions of Jewish
21 A New Catholic—Jewish Relationship for Europe - PIER FRANCESCO
22 Possible Implications of the New Age Movement for the Jewish People - MARGARET BREARLEY
Part 7 Jewish Europe as Seen from Without
23 The New Europe and the Zionist Dilemma - DANIEL GUTWEIN
24 Jewish Renewal in the New Europe: An American Jewish Perspective - DAVID SINGER
Notes on Contributors