So, 06. Jul 2014, 14:15-15:45 Uhr On the meaning of having Jewish family. Jewish genealogy in a secular age Öffentlicher Vortrag im Rahmen der Sommeruniversität für jüdische Studien von Prof. Dr. Irene Zwiep (Zürich/Amsterdam), in Englisch

In the fall term of 2013, my colleague Shlomo Berger and I taught a course based on the recent BBC-series Who do you think you are?. In this immensely popular series, prominent British personalities are sent on a quest for their — not seldom spectacular or unanticipated — ancestry. Central to each of our sessions was a famous Brit who either went in search of his/her Jewish roots, or was suddenly confronted with a distinct Jewish lineage. We successively watched television cook Nigella Lawson trying to gloss over her humble Jewish origins, comedian Stephen Fry compensating for his Britishness by appealing his ‘bustling, noisy European Jewish family’, actor David Suchet (what’s in a name) finding out his great-grandfather’s profession, and East Enders star June Brown loosing herself in the myth of the Sephardi tribe. In the ensuing discussions, we tried to turn anecdote into analysis and distil macro-historical meaning out of micro-historical ‘data’. What patterns could be discerned in our protagonists’ responses to their Jewish lineage? What did these responses tell us about migration and alienation, memory and cliché, the diffuse principles of modern Jewish identity, and the meaning(s) attributed to Judaism today? What, in short, could possibly be the importance of being Jew-ish in a ‘secular’ age? In this paper, I would like to share some of our results, and explore how these might be related to the unprecedented popularity of genealogical studies among broad layers of present-day society. Mehr Information: Sommeruniversität für jüdische Studien, Hohenems 2014 

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