The Jewish Museum Berlinʼs Fellowship Program
An inhouse fellowship program sharpens the Jewish Museum's academic profile. It was launched with the opening of the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy in fall 2012 and promotes research on Jewish history and culture as well as migration and diversity in Germany.
Scientists who are selected have acquired an outstanding reputation in their respective fields. The first fellow project "Everyday Realities. Contemporary Jewish Life in Germany" by Dr. Karen Körber, who carried out a first nationwide study of the second generation of Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants in Germany, will be completed by the end of 2014. The fellowship program will be continued.
"Everyday Realities. Contemporary Jewish Life in Germany": The first research project
The sociologist Karen Körber has completed the first nationwide quantitative and qualitative survey on young Russian-speaking Jews in Germany as part of her fellowship at the Jewish Museum Berlin. Using an online survey, 267 men and women between 20 and 40 within and outside the Jewish communities submitted information between October and December 2013. In addition, open-ended guided interviews were conducted with 30 young adults – half of them in Berlin, the city with the largest Jewish community in Germany, and the other half around Germany. Central themes of the interviews included educational and professional career, private life forms, Jewish identity patterns and practices, choice of social groups, as well as affinity to Germany, and observations on transnational references and positioning practices.
Central Results of the Study
- The Russian-Jewish second-generation immigrants affirm a Jewish identity. Unlike their Soviet-oriented families of origin, these young adults consciously identify themselves as Jews.
- This turn towards Judaism is accompanied by a primarily secular-liberal perception of Jewishness and an exodus from the Jewish communities. Over a third of the respondents do not belong to any community. The respondents see Jewishness as determined more by Jewish culture, festivals, movies, and music than by Jewish religion.
- The respondents' employment situation is above average, although this group of migrants benefited from their high educational achievement. Compared with their parents, who faced unemployment and precarious employment following their immigration, members of the second generation clearly see themselves as climbers.
- For the future of the Jewish community in Germany, the vast majority of respondents wish for a secular, pluralist, and European Jewry.
The study's key findings were presented for the first time at the international conference "Contemporary Jewish life in a global modernity: Comparative European perspectives on a changing diaspora," which was held at the Jewish Museum Berlin on 11-12 December 2014. The conference considered which opportunities, challenges, and dilemmas are met by the Jewish presence in an ethnically, culturally, and religiously plural Europe.
Dr. Karen Körber
The study will appear in the scholarly series "Studies of the Jewish Museum Berlin."
In an interview with the Jewish Museum Berlin blog, Blogerim, Karen Körber tells of her fellowship experience, her research project, and the Jewish community in Germany.