Book Review: Jews and Jewish Education in Germany Today

Sep. 25, 2013

Source: Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (2013) pp. 1-2.


The authors of Jews and Jewish Education in Germany Today ––two sociologists and one historian––study the complex situation of Jewish communities in Germany integrating an immigrant population of Russian speaking Jews far more numerous than their original members based on the findings of a three-part empirical survey carried out in 2008 and 2009. For their analysis, the authors apply the concept of a transnational diaspora familiar to migration sociology. This allows them to focus on multiple origins, ties and affiliations at once. A further useful concept is that of insertion, here standing in for the more familiar one of integration. The authors, Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Olaf Glöckner & Yitzhak Sternberg, argue that integration would imply goals such as cohesion and coherence, which Germany’s Jewry today lacks.


A third part of the study surveyed Jewish educational institutions in Germany at all levels, from day care through youth centers to rabbinical studies and private cultural clubs. The underlying question was what the extreme pluralism in the affiliations and views found in German Jewry today meant for Jewish education. Given the traditional importance accorded to education in Jewish culture, the authors placed the question of the educational practices and aspirations found among German Jews at the center of their enquiry. They found a broad and varied range of educational institutions mirroring the new pluralism found in German Jewry today. The survey further shows that the respondents identified the lack of Jewish high schools as the biggest problem.


The results of all three parts of the study are thoroughly described and analyzed, with the separate conclusions placed between chapters as a particular asset to the reader. All interviews are thoroughly documented (appendix 1), and appendix 2 provides brief portraits of 89 educational institutions grouped by location and type, including information on their purpose, funding, management, size, contact data and website, which makes it into a valuable and useful handbook of Jewish education in Germany.

Updated: Nov. 26, 2013