Tasks and Goals
The research interests of MMZ focus on the history, religion and culture of the Jews and Judaism in the countries of Europe from the early modern period to the present. Our focus also includes the history and current state of Israel today, the sociology of Judaism, antisemitism and right-wing radicalism, and educational/didactical tasks.
History, Religion and Culture of the Jews of Europe
A particular emphasis is placed on the social history between the Jews and their non-Jewish environment. The research work focuses on problems of integration, acculturation, "assimilation" and on comparative socio-historical issues such as living conditions, social- and geographic mobility. The spectrum ranges from research on cultural, socio-cultural and ideological aspects in the Enlightenment through the 20th century, to the Jews who immigrated to Germany from the former Soviet Union. Their integration and the change in the Jewish communities in Germany and Europe in the present is also a focus of research.
Zionism, History and Present State of Israel
The history of the state of Israel belongs as an integral component of the history of Zionisim before its founding, the history of Zionism after 1948 and the history of the state of Israel in historical, sociological, cultural and demographic terms, including the history of Zionism.
Today's Israeli society, which is characterized by immigration, high economic dynamism, rapid developments in science, (multi-) cultural change, but also numerous conflicts, is also the focus of MMZ research.
A visiting professor of “Israel Studies,” sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, will further expand the teaching and research profile on Israel's past and present as well as on Israel's place and role in the Middle East. The focus is also on the relationship between Israel and today's Jewish diaspora.
Antisemitism and Right-Wing Radicalism / Right-Wing Extremism
Right-wing radicalism and right-wing extremism are a particular challenge in the new federal states of Germany. In Brandenburg, relatively successful structures and measures have been promoted and developed in recent years to ward off right-wing extremism and promote democratic civil society (i.e., the Brandenburg model). Nevertheless, right-wing extremism still has unsettling dimensions in Brandenburg. Right-wing extremists sit in the parliaments of numerous counties and municipalities. Right-wing extremist subcultures are especially found in younger population groups as well, and extremist right-wing motivated criminal and violent acts still have a high value placed on them.
In 2006, MMZ established its own research focus on “antisemitism and right-wing extremism research,” which carries out studies on contemporary right-wing extremism in Brandenburg, but also in other areas of the Federal Republic. The results of previous studies have been incorporated into various publications and presented to the public in numerous events. At the same time, scientific consultation is offered for various institutions that are directly or indirectly confronted with the phenomenon again and again (e.g., schools, security forces, social institutions, municipal administrations, victims' associations, etc.) The most important publication on this complex of topics is embodied in the handbook “Right-wing extremism in Brandenburg. Manual for Analysis, Prevention and Intervention.” (2007)
One of the tasks of MMZ is to present Jews and Judaism as an integral area of European culture, and to counteract the distorted image of Jews and Judaism through intensive cooperation with the media, as well as through advanced and continued training measures together with other educational institutions.
This is the aim of the MMZ's work on a concept for imparting Judaism in the classroom, which is especially tailored to the Brandenburg area, as well as advising on exhibition projects and regional historical working groups (e.g., history workshops).
The Halberstadt-based Moses Mendelssohn Academy (MMA) is also integrated into this concept as a meeting place to promote tolerance and intercultural communication.
In addition to its own research and teaching activities, the Moses Mendelssohn Center is committed to fulfilling a civil society mandate as a humanities institution in German society. This includes close cooperation with the media, conveying knowledge about the history of German-Jewish and European-Jewish relationships, the contributions and effects of Jewish culture within European culture, as well as the situation of religious, ethnic and cultural minorities. This also includes knowledge to protect against the dangers of old and new anti-Semitism, of racism as well as intolerance. In some research fields (e.g., right-wing extremism / antisemitism research, migration research) there is a very objective need to provide new knowledge for policy advice.