"Poor Jews! About poverty"
European Summer University for Jewish Studies, Hohenems 2015
Hohenems June 28 – July 3, 2015

Jewish life in Europe was informed by the experience of poverty for centuries. Behind both, the success stories and the dramatic catastrophes, and apart from the nostalgia of the Shtetl and the discourse about cultural traditions the reality of poverty and hardships in everyday life are forgotten all to often.

The majority of European Jews lived on the verge of misery. Subordinated to particular laws and regulation they were cut off by large parts of the economy, limited in their social and cultural life, or – particularly in Eastern Europe – confined in a partial autonomy that was informed by repression and poverty.

Mass emigration from East to West and out of the traditional communities in little towns and villages to the urban centers was the result – offering new experiences but also new forms of misery that became the subject of political debates, ideas and utopias. The discussion about poverty was an integral part of Jewish tradition and its challenge, from the biblical scripture to modernity and socialism.

The Summer University 2015 will study the social reality but also the reflection and representation of poverty in literature and religious tradition, in the arts and media, from various perspectives and disciplines. Attempts to confront Jewish poverty in traditional or modern forms of self aid and solidarity will be the subject as much as the reflection of poverty in the rabbinical tradition.

The summer university Hohenems, now in its seventh year, is a joint project of the universities of Munich, Basel, Vienna, Zurich and Bamberg together with the Jewish Museum Hohenems. It offers a specialized program for students of Jewish studies, in the fields of history and culture, literature and linguistics, religious studies and anthropology. Applications have to be sent to the University of Munich. The one week interdisciplinary program provides the students the possibility to deepen their knowledge and to discuss ideas related to a certain topic of Jewish studies with an international group of scholars and in communication with fellow students from various German speaking countries.

By joining the resources of the five participating universities the students are offered possibilities that go far beyond the scope of the single institutes and faculties. The former Jewish Quarter of Hohenems and the Jewish Museum offers an inspiring setting for this. The summer university also encourages collaboration between scholars and the museum on various levels. more 

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