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JPR’s Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd, joined the international faculty convened for Vanderbilt University’s course in ‘The Jewish Diaspora,’ to lecture on the contemporary British Jewish community.
The university programme, which focuses on Jewish life outside of the United States and Israel, examines multiple topics including the migrations of Jews from the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Israel; the nature of diaspora communities whose very dispersion creates symbolic, social and affective connections with multiple places; how the collapse of communism and the moves toward European unification have raised new questions about the legacy of the Holocaust and of Jews’ place in European society; the sometimes precarious political and economic situation of Latin American Jews; and the differences that distinguish Canadian Jews from their neighbours to the south.
The programme is coordinated by Professor Shaul Kelner, one of America’s leading Jewish sociologists, whose work explores the intersection of culture and politics, and focuses particularly on how cultural practices are mobilised to shape contemporary Jewish political identities. Some of his recent work has focused on diaspora Jewish travel to Israel, and cultural dimensions the movement to free Soviet Jews.
Jonathan’s lecture, delivered the day after the general election was announced in the UK, discussed the political context for the decision to call the election, and how Brexit, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, immigration and Islamist extremism are impacting on the contemporary British Jewish community.