Jews Along the Silk Road

Inter­national Conference on Migration Routes, Entangled Spaces, and In-between Positions (video recording available, in English and German)

House wall with a sign that reads Shalom in Hebrew letters and Peace to the World in Russian

A synagogue in Bukhara off of a side street in the old town, photo: Adam Baker, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

How do Jews live between Baku and Berlin, between Tashkent and Tehran, Dushanbe and Tel Aviv? How did experiences of convival living with Muslim, Christian or secularized majority and minority populations shape Jewish biographies and identities? The majority of Jews living in Germany and Europe today come from areas of the former Soviet Union. Most migrated from European parts such as Belarus, Ukraine or Russia, but some arrived from the southern and eastern republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia – areas that lie on the routes of the historic and new Silk Road.

recording available

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The W. M. Blumenthal Academy is marked in green


W. M. Blumenthal Academy
Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

During the three-day international conference, we would like to approach the little-known stories of flight, deportation and migration between Europe and Asia, the experiences of neighbourhood and religious everyday practices of (post-)Soviet Jews from the Caucasus and Central Asia. The focus is on social and cultural entangled and liminal spaces, places of encounters and in-between positions of people living as minorities and migrants in multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies.

How are these experiences and biographies shaped by Soviet Orientalism and colonialism, antisemitism and racism, and how do they relate to Jewish experiences in Iran, Turkey, Morocco or India? We are looking at the memories and experiences of living together in the Soviet and global South and are asking how these stories change the narratives of Jewish and post-migrant life in the 21st century in Germany and Europe. 

The opening lecture will be given by Prof. Dr. Atina Grossmann (The Cooper Union in New York City).

The conference will conclude with a reading lecture by Olga Grjasnowa. The author will read from her new novel Der verlorene Sohn as part of the ZOiS Forum.

Organizers of the conference
  • Dr. Alina Gromova (Jewish Museum Berlin,
  • Dr. Darja Klingenberg (Europe-University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder),
  • Dr. Tsypylma Darieva (Center for East European and International Studies, ZOiS Berlin,


10 October 2021

2 pm

Welcome and Introduction

Hetty Berg (Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin)
Alina Gromova (Jewish Museum Berlin)
Tsypylma Darieva (Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), Berlin)
Darja Klingenberg (Viadrina European University in Frankfurt Oder)

2.30 pm

Keynote (in English)

Atina Grossmann (The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York): Globalizing Holocaust Memory. Survival, Flight and Evacuation in Soviet Central Asia and Other Colonial Spaces
In conversation with Alina Gromova (Jewish Museum Berlin) and Darja Klingenberg (Viadrina European University in Frankfurt Oder)

3.30 pm

Coffee Break

4 pm

Panel 1: Routes and Encounters along the Silk Road (in English)

Ariane Sadjed (Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna):
Before the Nation: Connections and Divergences among Persianate Jews
Zeev Levin (Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, Jerusalem):
Religious, National or Cultural? Transforming Frameworks of Jewish Education in Central Asia
Thomas Loy (Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague):
Bukharan Jews in Europe Lifeworld and Memory far from the Silk Roads
Boris Chukhovich (Observatory of Central Asian Cultural Heritage, Montreal): 
Jewish Architects in Soviet Uzbekistan: Between Radical Modernism and a Regional Approach (1960s–1980s)
Chair: Jesko Schmoller (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

6 pm

Lecture Performance (in German)

Ina Holev (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf and Jüdisch und Intersektional – Initiative für kritische Bildungsarbeit)
Miriam Yosef (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen and Jüdisch und Intersektional – Initiative für kritische Bildungsarbeit):
Doppelte Verflechtungen – eine Auseinandersetzung mit innerjüdischen Verbindungen und Differenzen / Double Entanglements – an Examination of Intra-Jewish Connections and Differences

6.30 pm


11 October 2021

2 pm

Panel 2: Shared Neigbourhoods (in English)

Narciss M.Sohrabi (Paris Nanterre University):
Representation of Jewish Neighborhoods in Tehran during 20th Century
Florian Mühlfried (Ilia State University, Tbilisi):
Jewish-Christian Conviviality in the Racha Province of Georgia
Natalie Belsky (University of Minnesota Duluth):
From Nightgowns to Prayerbooks: the Role of Material Culture in Negotiating Relations on the Soviet Home Front 
Gabriele Anderl (Austrian Society for Exile Research):
The Emergence of the Bukharian Community in Vienna an Unforeseen Outcome of the Jewish Emigration from the Soviet Union
Chair: Alina Gromova (Jewish Museum Berlin)

4 pm

Coffee Break

4.30 pm

Panel 3: In-Between Positions. Jewish and Other Biographies (in German and English)

Valerij Gretchko (Tokyo University):
The Baazov Family and the Transformation of Georgian Jewry in the 20th Century
Miriam Goldmann (Jewish Museum Berlin):
Presenting Jewish Entrepreneurial Migrants in the Museum
Alexander Kartosia (Tbilisi State University):
Fremd- und Selbstbezeichnungen und -wahrnehmungen der georgischen Juden im ersten Drittel des 20. Jahrhunderts: Gerzel Baazovs Judenbilder
Chair: Signe Rossbach (Jewish Museum Berlin)

6 pm

Coffee Break

6.30 pm

Exploring Diverse Diasporas – Presentation of Research Projects by Students of Viadrina European University in Frankfurt Oder
Diverse Diasporas erzählen – Forschungsprojekt von Master Studierenden der Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt Oder (in German)

Cooperation with the Jewish Museum Berlin, Object Days. Jewish Migration to Germany after 1945:
Darja Klingenberg (Viadrina European University in Frankfurt Oder)
Theresia Ziehe (Jewish Museum Berlin)
Students of Viadrina European University in Frankfurt Oder

7.30 pm

End of the day 2

12 October 2021

1 pm

Panel Discussion: Jews from the Caucasus and Central Asia in Germany and Austria / Podiumsgespräch: Jüdinnen und Juden aus dem Kaukasus und Asien in Deutschland und Österreich (in German)

Sevil Huseynova (Center for Independent Social Research (CISR), Berlin)
Yuval Katz (Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna) 
German Djanatliev (Board of Directors of the Central Council of Jews in Germany)
Chair: Anastassia Pletoukhina (Independent Sociologist, Berlin)

2 pm

Panel 4: Migration Routes and Entangled Spaces (in English)

Karen Körber (Institute for the History of the German Jews, Hamburg):
“The Persian Carpet”. Iranian Jews and the German Economic Miracle
Varvara Redmond (University of Warsaw):
Digital Multinational Communities of the Mountain Jews
Chen Bram (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Academic College):
Immigration and Intergroup Relations: Jewish-Muslim Relations in Central Eurasia, Israel, and U.S.
Chair: Tsypylma Darieva (Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), Berlin)

3.30 pm

Coffee Break

3.45 pm

Panel 5: Shared Memories: Experiences of Exclusion and Inclusion (in English)

Yulia Oreshina (Georgian American University, Tbilisi):
“26 Centuries of Friendship”: Georgian-Jewish Relations in Georgian Cultural and Communicative Memory 
Eliyana R. Adler (Penn State University):
Memory of Migrations: Integrating Tales of Central Asia in Memorial Books 
Anna P. Ronell (Independent Scholar, Boston):
Dina Rubina: Growing Up Jewish In Tashkent
Chair: Irina Bondas (Berlin)

5.15 pm

Final Remarks

5.30 pm

Coffee Break

7 pm

ZOiS Forum. 30 Years of Post-Soviet Migration in Germany
A Life Between Worlds (in German)

Author Event with Olga Grjasnowa (Berlin)
Discussant: Britta Schneider (Viadrina European University in Frankfurt Oder)
Chair: Tsypylma Darieva (Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), Berlin)

8.30 pm


9.30 pm

End of the conference

In Cooperation with

Logo in blau und gelb mit Schriftzug: Europa Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) Logo in blau und gelb mit Schriftzug: Viadrina Center Borders in Motion Logo in schwarz und rot mit dem Schriftzug: ZOiS Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien

Where, when, what?

  • When10 to 12 Oct 2021
  • Where W. M. Blumenthal Academy
    Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See location on map
  • Languages German and English

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