The Former Jewish School (EJS), owned by the district of Leer, is already cooperating with the Stichting Folkingestraat Synagogue (SFS) in Groningen in an excursion project for pupils. Since may 2018, a joint large-scale project is underway that intensifies the existing cooperation of both project partners and generates important impulses for the regional and supraregional network.
The joint research project titled “Jewish Life in the area close to the border” explores the interrelations between exemplary German and Dutch synagogue communities. These are three communities from the East Frisian Rheiderland (Bunde, Jemgum, Weener) and the Dutch Groningerland (Bourtange, Groningen, Winschoten). The focus of the research project is the research, teaching and presentation of Jewish migration history. At the same time, an overall picture of Jewish life in the area close to the border is to be created from a historical perspective. The aim is to portray the multi-layered and reciprocal relationships of exemplary Jewish communities on both sides of the border and bring them to public awareness. In addition, existing networks and the interested public shall be made aware of the subject of the Jewish migration movement and migration experience.
The joint project between the SFS and the EJS is divided into two work phases: In the first phase, a cross-border research project is being carried out to examine the migration ratio of the Jewish communities in the Rheiderland and Groningerland. This research is based on the thesis that migration efforts are mutually oriented. For the first time, for example, Jewish history in the German-Dutch border region is being researched and the results communicated to the general public. Within this research work is also working with contemporary witnesses whose experiences are to be recorded in interviews. The conclusion of this cross – border research will be the presentation of the research results in the form of a symposium with the regional and national networks such as the Emsland landscape, the Oldenburg landscape and the East Frisian landscape as well as various network partners on the German side and, for example, the Stichting behoud Winsum synagogue and the Stichting Oude Groninger Kerken is planned on the Dutch side. The conclusion of the research phase is the publication of the results, which are thus made available to the public in a sustainable way. The target group of this working phase are primarily existing networks and actors. The presentation of the research results aims to strengthen and stimulate existing networks.
In the second phase of work, these research results will be prepared for the target group as part of a permanent position presented in the Groninger Synagoge. In the context of the new conception of the permanent exhibition in the synagogue, the subject area “Jewish life in the area close to the border” will play an important role. In addition to historical core topics, this presentation will also include a pedagogical focus that formulates key questions about tolerance in a pluralistic migration society and links these with historical topics and current issues. In this way, knowledge should be imparted, civil society forces strengthened and position against national exclusionary tendencies.
The end of this working phase is the presentation of the exhibition. It is planned that the exhibition will be shown as a traveling exhibition for the first time in Leer and later in the province of Groningen and finally find its place in the permanent exhibition at the Groninger Synagoge. The primary target group for this phase of work is young people who are to be taught historical education and a reflective view of Jewish migration experience.
The cross-border project will convey historical knowledge, strengthen civic values and act as a catalyst for existing networks.
Foto: (c) Kay-Rafael Stemmer, Bremen.