International Survey of Jewish Monuments

Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe

by Ruth Ellen Gruber

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Research Grant to Ruth Ellen Gruber for her book, Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe (University of California Press, 2001).

This book explores the Jewish revival in Europe and the context in which it is happening by focusing on several aspects of the trend, including principally boom of interest in things Jewish among non-Jews in Central Europe and the coincident "Jewish repopulation" of the region through the revitalization and rising self-awareness of local Jewish communities since the fall of communism. It also discusses the impact of American and other foreign Jews who visit in increasing numbers.

Personalities, participants, and motivations often overlap, and all of the component trends to one extent or another involve the use of memory as a vehicle in recreating or re-establishing Jewish identity -- be it personal Jewish identity or the historic Jewish identity of a country or region.

Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe focuses mainly on the two countries which arguably had the deepest involvement in the Holocaust, and where today's trends are most strikingly apparent -- Germany, the wartime perpetrator, and Poland, home to the largest pre-war European Jewish population and the country that became the Nazi's paramount Jewish killing ground.

The book includes sections which discuss the current trend in identifying and conserving historic Jewish sites, and discuss the role of the physical heritage of Central European Jews in restoring memory and shaping contemporary identity. Ruth Ellen Gruber is known widely for her journalism and as the author of two books on Jewish themes: Jewish Heritage Travel and Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today.

With the assistance of the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation and the Gates of Chai Foundation, ISJM provided funding for this project.

International Survey of Jewish Monuments
c/o Jewish Heritage Research Center
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Syracuse, New York 13210-3419, USA

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Last updated: March 21, 2005