I am a historian of 19th to 21st century Europe, with a growing interest in world history. My first book Next Year in Marienbad: The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture deals with the question in what way space determines modern Jewish identity. In the first half of the 20th century, spa culture was an essential part of life in Western and Eastern Europe as well as the United States—and especially a part of Jewish life. Bourgeois Jews travelled to fashionable spas, just as proletarian and Chassidic Jews did. My book describes the health resorts as stages displaying a growing variety and complexity of Jewish identities, seen through the prisms of sociability, cultural encounter, perception by and of others, body politics and space.
My second book, published in August 2014, is a biography of the Trotskyist politician Werner Scholem, the once famous brother of the religious studies scholar Gershom Scholem. Based on a variety of sources and perspectives, the life of Werner Scholem is an exceptional story of success, failure, love, betrayal and persecution. These motives would make the perfect plot for a novel; in my book they are based on historical analysis and "translated" into a biographical narrative. Werner Scholem's biography reflects an alternative yet central German-Jewish experience in the first half of the twentieth century, and sheds light on the complex but close relationship between "Jewish Jews" and "non-Jewish Jews." My new research project Jews in Love: From Shidduchim to Romance deals with the topic of becoming acquainted and falling in love in the age of migration. The "dating project" derives from my interest in spatial history and the history of migration, literature studies and historical anthropology. It therefore takes a comparative perspective on the various worlds of modern Judaism and other minority and majority cultures.
Apart from this exciting new project, I started writing a text book on modern Jewish world history, and an extended article on the intellectual and literary critic Reuven Brainin (1862-1939), a forgotten figure in American and European history. Brainin, who tried to bridge the gap between Zionism and communism, and between Yiddish and Hebrew, is one of the figures on the margins of Judaism, in which I have become interested consequently after my research on Werner Scholem.