Name changes and visions of ”a new Jew” in the Helsinki Jewish community

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This article discusses an organized name-change process that occurred in the 1930s in the Jewish community of Helsinki. Between 1933 and 1944 in approximately one fifth of the Helsinki Jewish families (c. 16 %) someone had their family name changed. We argue that the name changes served two purposes: on the one hand they made life easier in the new nation state. It was part of a broader process where tens of thousands of Finns translated and changed their Swedish names to Finnish ones. On the other hand, the changed family names offered a new kind of Jewish identity. The name-changing process of the Helsinki Jews opens a window onto the study of nationalism, antisemitism, identity politics and visions of a Jewish future from the Finnish perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis
Volume27 (2016)
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5202 Economic and Social History
  • Judaism; Jews
  • Finland; Names, Jewish
  • Nationalism -- Finland History -- 20th century.
  • Yiddish language
  • Hebrew language
  • Finnish language
  • Swedish language
  • Antisemitism
  • Zionism

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