The Digital Prosopographical Handbook of Flight and Migration of German Rabbis after 1933 (MIGRA) is complementing the collection of prosopographical data compiled in our database MIRA (https://mira.geschichte.lmu.de/) which delivers a short dictionary-style access to the rabbis’ careers and biographies as well as to archival and library holdings that are linked with this database.
The collection of articles in the handbook seeks to publish more nuanced scholarly articles highlighting the transnational nature of the refugee rabbis’ careers in a new fashion. This includes their flight, their hybrid identities and their reasoning over their cultural heritage and legacy after flight and relocation as “the last of a special kind” and the cultural transfers they stimulated. While their presence and re-organization in the United States around sister-institutions of the German rabbinical seminaries unquestionably turned the United States to a new center of modern Judaism and modern Jewish scholarship, their active involvement in cultural transfers, from Europe to the United States, but also to other countries, including post-war Germany, has hardly been addressed and should be an essential focus of this publication. The publication also includes rabbis who struggled to connect to existing American institutions or networks and re-organized exclusively in the refugee community, or outside the rabbinical profession.
While these cultural transfers frequently began at an early age, since a large part of the “German rabbinate”, was born east of the post World-War I borders of the German Reich in regions of Central Europe that used to belong to the Empires of Russia, Austria and Prussia, which dissolved after the First World War and harbored a large Jewish population with a distinct traditional background and knowledge, they are not one-dimensional, or take exclusively place in an East-West direction. The exchanges and communications are multidirectional and take place in hence undiscovered networks of communications, relationships and scholarly organizations, which we would like to address in this collection of articles.