Simo Muir


Simo Muir is currently Adjunct Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Helsinki. He has researched Jewish culture in Finland from the perspective of cultural history and sosiolinguistics.
Muir earned his M.A. at the University of London and his Ph.D. at the University of Helsinki, where his dissertation dealt with Yiddish language and culture in Helsinki. Muir’s recent articles have focused on antisemitic currents in Finnish academe and on Jewish contacts with Finnish nationalist circles in the 1930s. At the moment Muir is engaged in researcher project “Cultures of Silence – Evolution of a Finnish Version of Vergangenheitsbewältigung” funded by the Finnish Academy.

Sessions:

Rejection of Israel-Jakob Schur PhD Dissertation at the University of Helsinki in 1937- The goal of the paper is to present antisemitism as the underlying reason for the rejection of Israel-Jakob Schur’s PhD dissertation at the University of Helsinki in 1937. The paper analyzes the different stages of the process and the ideological background and motives underpinning the rejection.

Schur’s antagonists were right-wing professors, some of whom sympathized with National Socialism and maintained contacts with eminent German antisemitic ideologues. The paper analyzes the rhetoric of the written statements, which contain ideas of Christian antisemitism as well as other anti-Jewish stances. Moreover, the paper demonstrates that Schur was regarded as an “alien element” in the Finnish academe, and the topic of his research – circumcision – was considered non-national from the perspective of Finnish science.

Yiddish in Finland - The aim of the presentation is to give an overview about the history of the Yiddish language in Finnish context and about the state of Yiddish in present day Finland.
The Jewish community in Finland has its roots in the Russian army. Jewish soldiers and their spouses originated chiefly from the realm of North-eastern Yiddish (“Lithuanian Yiddish”) that put its imprint on the Yiddish dialect and traditions in Finland. In 1906 Helsinki was the stage of the Third Conference of Russian Zionists, and its declaration, the Helsingfors Programme, came to have a major affect on the cultural and political life of the community. Despite the increasing linguistic assimilation via Swedish to Finnish, Yiddish had still a central role in Jewish music and theatre during the interim of the world wars.
In the beginning of the 2000s the interest for Yiddish grew again. A Yiddish club called Idishe vort was founded with evening classes and a theatre workshop. There have also been many courses on Yiddish at the University of Helsinki.