PhD and Early Career Researcher Workshop


Imagined Jewishness and Jewish self-perception in Germany, Britain and Europe (1700 to 1948)


September 12, 2022 to September 13, 2022


The Jewish Museum, Raymond Burton House London

Subject fields:

Jewish History/British History/German History/Religious Studies and Theology

Mode of participation:

Participation by invitation and via Call for papers, list of prospective participants will be circulated; Hybrid mode (partly in person/partly via Zoom)

Partner Institutions

University of Aberdeen – Prof Karin Friedrich (Chair of German History Society) and Prof. Michael Brown (Chair of Scottish Studies)

Bar Ilan University– Workshop on Jewish Studies and Politics in the Early Modern period hosted by Prof. Dr. Shmuel Feiner

Selma Stern Zentrum Berlin (Prof. Carsten Schapkow)

Nothern Jewish Studies Partnership (Prof. Alexander Samely, Manchester University)

Call for Papers

This workshop aims to bring together PhD and Early Career scholars in Jewish History, British History and German History from Britain, Germany, Israel and the US. Papers in this workshop will point towards research gaps in the fields mentioned above. In addition, participants have to refer to the collection of the Jewish Museum to demonstrate the links between the German Jewish experience in Britain and relations between the Jewish community in Britain and Germany. This workshop, furthermore, attempts to discuss how Jews themselves in Britain and Germany reclaimed the discussion about Jewishness. Finally, the workshop intends to embed Jewish History in broader research on British and German History and debates on belonging, nationhood and political emancipation in the Eighteenth Century.

The experience of Jews in Germany and Britain is rarely approached with a comparative focus that looks for similarities between the Jewish community of those nations. Nevertheless, personal correspondence between Israel Zangwill and Max Nordau and the frequent trips to the rabbis of London by Hamburg based rabbi Jacob Emden prove the existence of personal relations. Moreover, those personal relations demonstrate the reality of intellectual, political and social networks between German and British Jews from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth century. However, before scholars can analyse these networks, they must define how Jews in Germany and Britain responded to the imagined Jew and reclaimed the discourse on Jewishness, Jewish urban space and Jewish religion from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth century. This preliminary discussion on national differences and similarities of the imagined Jew and its perception among the Jewish community supports debates on the Jewish community’s personal, intellectual and religious relations.

In this workshop, the participants will discuss different ideas of Jewish identity by scrutinising how Jews in Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) responded to Christian images of Jewishness (the imagined Jew) in political, ecclesiastical popular literature. In doing so, the participants will demonstrate that the lived experiences of Jews in the various parts of Britain are more diverse than portrayed in the orthodox Anglo-centred interpretation of the British Jewish experience. Next, the participants compare “British” concepts of the imagined Jew with German ideas of the imagined Jew. These discussions will lead to a comparative approach to how Jews in Germany and Britain responded to Christian concepts of Judaism and Jewishness and how these images changed and shifted when German Jews emigrated to Britain or British Jews travelled to Germany. The question that arises here is: How did Jewishness images differ between Germany and Britain? Which new forms of interaction with the Christian Other, new forms of Jewish urban space and politics did emerge from those confrontations with the imagined Jew?

Participants are invited to present 15-minute-long papers on the aspects above of imagined and actual Jewishness in Britain, Germany and Europe between the Eighteenth and the Twentieth century. Since the workshop is held in the Jewish Museum in London, we encourage participants to relate to the exhibition of the Museum in their papers. Please submit an abstract of 200 words to Julia Pohlmann (

Deadline for submission is June 24th. This workshop is a hybrid event, enabling researchers from the US and Israel to participate.

Topic(s) of interest:

Germany: The representation of German Jews shifted after the First World, leading to a neglect of research on how German Jews saw themselves in the Jewish community in Britain. How did German Jews reflect upon the situation of the Jews in Britain? How did they define themselves abroad and at home?

Ireland: What constitutes Irish-Jewish History? What imagined and real networks existed between the Irish and the Jews? How did the Jewish community find their voice and define itself against the Jewish communities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London?

Scotland:  How did Jewish emigrants to Scotland respond to the varying images of Jewishness in literature and political culture in Scotland’s Highland vs Lowland divide? Which new concepts of a Scottish Jewish identity emerged from the Eighteenth to Twentieth century?

England: England’s multitude of Christian faiths produced various political and religious tropes of Jewishness to create national and religious integrity concepts and define the state itself. However, how did those imagined concepts of Jewishness change when confronted with an authentic Jewish community in the Eighteenth century? Which new forms of Jewish participation (e.g. Unionism, Zionism) emerged in the nineteenth century, and how did the Shoah influence English-Jewish identity today?

Sephardic – Ashkenazic divide: How did Sephardic Jews differ in their political participation and in displaying their Sephardic heritage compared to the Ashkenazi Jews? What did “imagined Jewishness” and actual Jewishness mean to them?

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