Shades of Jewishness : the creation and maintenance of a liberal Jewish community in post-Shoah Germany
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This PhD thesis focuses on the creation and maintenance of the liberal Jewish community in present day Cologne, Germany. The community has the telling name Gescher LaMassoret, which translates into „Bridge to Tradition.‟ The name gives away that this specific community, its individual members and its struggles cannot be understood without the socio-historic context of Germany and the Holocaust. Although this Jewish community is not a community of Holocaust survivors, the dichotomy Jewish-German takes various shapes within the community and surfaces in the narratives of the individual members. These narratives reflect the uniqueness of each individual in the community. While this is a truism, this individual uniqueness is a key element in Gescher LaMassoret, whose membership consists of people from various countries who have various native languages. Furthermore, the community comprises members of Jewish descent as well as Jews of conversion who are of German, non- Jewish parentage. Due to the aftermaths of the Holocaust and the fact that Gescher LaMassoret houses a vast internal diversity, the creation of this community which lacks any tradition happens through mixing and meshing the life-stories and other narratives of the members, which flow into the collective narrative of the community. On the surface, the narratives of the individual members seem in conflict, they even contradict each other, which means that the narrative of the community is in constant tension. However, under the dissimilarities on the surface of the individual narratives hide similarities in terms of shared values and attitudes, which allow for enough overlaps to create a community by way of braiding a collective narrative, which offers the members to experience a 'felt ethnicity.'
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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