Continuing a New Tradition:
Contemporary Jewry in the Nordic Countries: History, Identities, and Practice
A lonely coffee break during the workshop. Photo: Ruth Illman.
During 20–21 May, the Minhag Finland project digitally hosted a workshop entitled Contemporary Jewry in the Nordic Countries: History, Identities, and Practice. It was the second gathering of scholars in the Nordic countries, who operate on the field of Jewish studies, following a meeting hosted by Södertörn University in the autumn of 2020.
The field of “Jewish studies” may sound like a specific field but in practice it is very diverse. It involves a multi- and interdisciplinary investigation of various phenomena connected to Jewish civilizations, where cross-cultural perspectives and multidisciplinary approaches have long been key for those being engaged in the field. During the two days of the workshop, we really got a taste of this diversity within the field, when listening to presentations by presenters and participants from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and from a number of institutions, including e.g. The Jewish Museum in Stockholm (Judiska Museet i Stockholm), Paidea – The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden, the Oslo Jewish Museum (Jødisk Museum i Oslo), The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies (HL-Senteret), Södertörn University or Uppsala University, to name a few. Researchers of history, antisemitism, Holocaust studies, gender studies, cultural studies, study of religions, etc. shared their rather similar experiences of working on this field, which is, as the examples show, among the most interdisciplinary realms of humanities. The discussions pertained to the holistic view of research problems and to exploring all available knowledge connected to a subject and attempting to bring all tools to develop the field of Jewish studies in the Nordic countries further, and to seek for meaningful ways of international collaboration. Despite the lack of physical meetings, and the lonely coffee breaks instead of continuing the exchange of thoughts while enjoying a cup of coffee together, the event was successful – and, since it happened for the second time, I can say it was traditional.
Similarly to last year’s workshop, the current one offered a brilliant platform for scholars to share opinions and challenges, open channels for future collaboration, and get to know each other and the research of each other a bit better, whether they were junior and senior in their own fields. It also brought a lot of new influences, ideas and inspiration to us in the Minhag Finland research team as we continue our research on vernacular Judaism in Finland today.
Text: Mercédesz Czimbalmos