Boundaries of Jewish Identities in Contemporary Finland

Project Details


Project Researchers: MA Mercédesz Czimbalmos, Docent Simo Muir, Dr Dóra Pataricza, Dr Riikka Tuori.

This project will research vernacular religion in the framework of a new analytic model designed for general applicability across cultures. By examining Jewish everyday life in Finland as conceived by mainstream adherents, the deeply engaged, critically secular and thoroughly indifferent alike, it challenges the convention to focus on static aspects of “knowing” and “being” in the study of religions by adding “doing” to the matrix. To ensure validity and broad applicability, the data on Finnish Jewry will be systematically compared to parallel data generated by Nordic collaborators working with Muslim and Jewish contexts. This will shed light on how small, distinct but peacefully integrated, religious communities embedded in larger majority cultures work.

Today, increasing migration, urbanisation and secularisation contest and reshape traditional boundaries of belonging. Static values and conceptions of identity give way to more flexible subjective positions accommodating a broad set of religious, secular and cultural influences. The analytic model captures this dynamic by creating a multidimensional yet structured framework for mapping vernacular religion, sensitive to historical data and cultural context but also individual narratives and nuances. It contributes to international scholarship by making Jewish experiences visible in a research field, which at present is narrowly constructed on Christian data, thus offering a unique prospect for scientific renewal.

An important asset is the excellent availability and accessibility of sources. Material from official and family archives and in-depth interviews are generated and structured by the research team, representing cross-disciplinary scientific expertise. The research is structured around four case studies designed to capture general trends in vernacular religion: foodways, family life, customs, and relations to secular society.

In addition to the analytic model, the project will offer new, open data for future research and improve the conditions for public debate by offering solid information resources for countering prejudices and hate speech. The results stress the inherent diversity of cultural heritage and can be implemented in policy-making to foster tolerance and promote interculturality. The project will result in scientific open access publications, academic and public events, blogs and strengthened international collaborative networks.
Short titleMinhag Finland
AcronymMinhag Finland
Effective start/end date01/01/1831/12/22

Collaborative partners

  • Åbo Akademi University (lead)
  • Inez and Julius Polin Institute for Theological Research
  • Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture


  • Waldemar von Frenckell’s Foundation: €3,500.00
  • The Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation: €31,000.00
  • Inez and Julius Polin Institute for Theological Research: €210,000.00

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Jewish studies
  • Judaism in Finland
  • Vernacular religion
  • ethnography
  • Jewish foodways
  • Jewish rituals
  • intermarriage
  • conversion