Places and spaces: Exploring
what makes up the Jewish tapestry
|Ruth Ellen Gruber|
|Avner Gruber, the first cousin once removed of Ruth Ellen Gruber, visits a Jewish cemetery in Hamburg, Germany.|
n doing so, we are mapping out our experiences, delineating a sort of Jewish topography of interlinking
Somehow I feel a sense of profound satisfaction when I discover an unexpected link with a stranger. It's like a gift, an almost magical sense of communion with the densely woven tapestry of Jewish life -- or at least with an individual or a place that helps make up that tapestry.The idea of Jewish topography and the spaces and places -- physical and metaphysical -- in which Jews live, dream and interact forms the basis of a fascinating new book.
“Jewish Topographies: Visions of Space, Traditions of Place” (Ashgate Publishing House, 2008) is a collection of essays by a score of international scholars who participated in a six-year research project at the University of Potsdam in Germany.
Called Makom, or "place" in Hebrew, the project aimed to explore the relevance of space and place in Jewish life and culture.
In my own writing, I have dealt frequently with "Jewish space" in the way that the Paris-based historian Diana Pinto framed it. She coined the term in the 1990s to describe the place occupied by Jews, Jewish culture and Jewish memory within mainstream European society, regardless of the size or activity of the local Jewish population.
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