Session details


Katalin Straner (University of York)


Jewish Migration, Jewish/non-Jewish Relations, Public Space


This proposal for a ‘main session’ aims to gather experts and emerging scholars working on the contact point between the fields of Jewish, urban and migration studies. It is organized by Dr. Susanne Korbel, (University of Graz, Austria), and Dr. Maja Hultman, (University of Gothenburg, Sweden). The panel approaches the multicultural urban setting of metropolises in the twentieth century. It will investigate the interactional spaces between Jewish migrants and local, urban populations in order to gain insights in relational, cultural, and/or political encounters of Jews and non-Jews, and to ask what kind of shapes these encounters took, as well as what impact they had on cities and their everyday life. The ’spatial turn’ has explored the Jewish relationship with metropolises for some twenty years, enriching Jewish and urban studies with examples of the multifaceted aspects of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the continents. The newest research within this area will be presented at this session, in order to discuss the dynamics of the link between Jewish migration and its consequential effect on local, urban environments.

What happened to concrete constructions, public spaces and social, multicultural milieus when Jews - and their ideas, items, languages and rituals - arrived? How did their migrational experience influence local settings, and what role did migration play in their relationship to metropolises and their populations? The session will investigate methodological approaches to spatiality in the urban context and present a broad spectrum of case studies. Listeners will be able to engage with the impact of Jewish migration in, for example, modern, urban cultures in Eastern and Central Europe, Scandinavia, Northern America, and Israel. 


Reading Jerusalem Street – a Cross Section through the History of Haifa


Lena Lorenz (Bauhaus University Weimar)


Haifa, British Mandate, Architecture


This year, within the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, we are increasingly looking at the White City of Tel Aviv, where during the British mandate, European modernism could arise almost from scratch on the dunes of Jaffa.

In contrast to that, this paper focuses on the question of how the growing number of mainly Jewish immigrants - with their own cultural practices, languages and sometimes traumatic experiences - influenced the urban development of the already established city of Haifa. The unique complexity of this so-called ‘mixed city’ will be examined on the basis of Jerusalem Street in the Hadar HaCarmel Quarter, which was developed throughout the whole British mandate period. Starting with the conceptual planning in 1922, which envisioned a European Garden City in the Arab country of Palestine, this story ends with the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel, a milestone in redefining and reinventing Jewish architecture and culture.

This paper understands architecture not only as a result of different interplays of powers, but also as an archive, which preserves information on environmental as well as material supply challenges; political, economic and social influences as well as hopes and aspirations of individuals. Those different parameters, which finally formed Jerusalem Street, will in this paper become visible as well as readable in order to relate them back to their date of origin. By examining the architecture and space of Jerusalem Street, this paper will step-by-step uncover the materialized stories of precise collaborations, negotiations, dependencies and independencies as well as the dynamical change of these contributing factors over time. This finally reflects the change of values, ideas and the search for identity in architectural expression as well as personal and social.

Instead of looking at Haifa from an overall perspective, this research uses one segment of the city, which to this day is extraordinary well preserved. Those buildings - or contemporary ‘documents’ - make history on different meta-levels accessible and finally open a new perspective on the history of Haifa.

German-Jewish Welfare Activities towards Jewish Migrants from Eastern Europe – Shaping Urban Space between 1890 and 1917


Anna Michaelis (Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf)


German-Jewish Welfare, Eastern European Jewry, Wilhelminian Germany


Between 1880 and 1914 approximately two million Eastern European Jews passed through the German Reich on their flight overseas, escaping economic hardship and antisemitic persecution. About 78.000 of them eventually stayed in Germany and became a point of contention within large Jewish communities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt on the Main about what Jewish life in urban settings should look like. German-Jewish welfare activists found themselves caught in a double bind between their strong sense of belonging to the German culture and their empathy towards the Jewish refugees from the east. This tension together with the prevailing fear of antisemitic hostility fueled by the presence in the urban public sphere, arises the question how this complex relational interplay between arriving Jewish migrants, settled German Jews and the urban social framework was negotiated.

The proposed paper will argue along three lines. Firstly, it will be argued that German Jewish philanthropists used corresponding urban spaces for placing their religious brethren very deliberately. They strategically made use of urban centers and peripheries in order to channel Eastern European Jewish Migration, to absorb it in the urban setting or – more commonly – to make it disappear from the public eye, as in the case the Jüdisches Erziehungshaus in Pankow near Berlin.

Secondly, it will be argued, that how and where Jewish migrants were placed in urban space depended highly on whether they were considered transmigrants or permanent immigrants. Whereas for transmigrants it was tried to keep them away from city centers, permanent settlers were trained professionally in the Jüdische Arbeiterkolonie Weissensee for a future life in Berlin.

Thirdly, it will be postulated that the biggest shifts in Jewish welfare practices happened regarding permanent immigration towards the end of the examined period. Institutions such as the Berlin Jüdisches Volksheim (founded in 1916) developed an innovative approach to cultural integration of Eastern European Jews.

Referencing the notion of territoriality (Sassen) and the application of the concept of social discipline on deviant subjects in urban space by Belina et. al., the paper will explore how German Jewish philanthropists shaped German-Jewish/Eastern European-Jewish/non-Jewish relations in urban space around 1900.

The Geography of Jewish Interwar Montreal: A Cartographic and Demographic Survey


Yosef Robinson


Montreal, Historical Geography, Jews


This paper examines several geospatial aspects of Jewish Montreal between the two World Wars (roughly the 1920s and 1930s) as well as into the 1940s. More specifically, it examines the distribution of the Montreal Jewish population and of Jewish institutions in Montreal at that time, using Google Maps in order to present them cartographically. Some questions explored and analyzed in the paper, through maps as well as words, include: What was the distribution of the Montreal Jewish population and of their institutions at the time? Are all of these spatially correlated; if so, how? How do the above distributions change over the course of the interwar period? In what way can all these facets of Jewish Montreal in the interwar period be mapped?

Over the course of the 1920s and 1930s, Jews moved ever further up (and west) along St.-Laurent Blvd. as well as its parallel streets, with some - of better means - moving west into Outremont and eventually beyond. At the same time, there was a smaller community of Jews in Montreal, generally wealthier and more assimilated, that lived downtown as well in next-door Westmount and some adjacent parts of Notre- Dame-de-Grâce. Yet other Montreal Jews lived in more peripheral areas. Jewish institutional activity moved uptown almost at the same time that the Jewish population did, but it lagged Jewish population movement by a number of years. There is a rather tight correlation between the distribution of Jewish residents and that of Jewish institutions.

On a systematic basis, the mapping has never been done in the vast literature on early 20th-century Montreal Jewish history, certainly not since seminal socio-demographic works on that topic were published in 1939. Through these maps, it is hoped that one would gain a greater understanding of Jewish Montreal during that time period. This would serve as a complement to the other tools by which the development of old Jewish Montreal is understood and appreciated by people nowadays. For those who grew up in those days, these maps would enrich their understanding of their own roots by spatial and quantitative means.