Russian Speaking Scientists:
Integration through Science
By Adriana Marin Grez
The Israeli and American economy has profited
from the immigration of Russian scientists. Also Germany could draw an
advantage from an increase in highly qualified scientists originating from
the former Soviet Union. But the imported qualifications of this immigrant
community have hardly drawn attention here. As a result, the Jewish Russian
scientists have created their own scientific societies to help themselves to
integrate into the new society while continuing their respective researches.
In Berlin alone, three such groups have been
founded. One group meets regularly within the
"Jewish Cultural Association", a cultural Jewish society dedicated
to give Jewish Russian immigrants a platform to meet and instruct themselves
within a widely secular but still Jewish ambience. The "Wissenschaftliche
Gesellschaft" (WIGB) on the other side is financed by the Jewish Community
of Berlin and the "Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle" (ZWST), an umbrella organisation
for Jewish social work, giving assistance, subsidised courses and holidays
to Jews in need in Germany.
Both these scientific societies are non-profit
organisations. A third one, the inventors society IWIS was founded to help
to promote the work of their members commercially.
The non-profit organisation WIGB looks back at six years of work. It has
been the model for some eleven Jewish scientific societies all over the
country. Some of those national societies were present at the five year
festivity of the mother society in Berlin in 2001.
Dr. Bella Lurik, since 1998 director of the
"scientific society Berlin" greeted the 90 guests and reported on their
activities. Thanks to the financial assistance of the Jewish Community of
Berlin and the Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle, the "sientific society Berlin" has
been able to publish two publications – one in German and one in English,
about the research projects of the group and their results. The publication
can be ordered through the "Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft", Oranienburger
Str. 31, Berlin. A third publication is currently under way.
Dr. Bella Lurik also mentioned the wide range of
activities in the youth department. The scientists give consultations to
schoolchildren and organise scientific competitions to encourage young
students to dedicate their future lives to science. The significance of this
endeavour was made apparent by the presence of the director of the Jewish
secondary school, Raissa Kruk.
Prof. Majranovski gave during the festivities an
overview of the societies activities. The overhead projector threw images of
chemical and mathematical formulas on the wall which the non scientific
visitor had not seen since his long past school days. But the impression
that the "scientific society" consists only of engineers, chemists,
physicists and mathematicians is quite misleading. The "scientific society"
represents scientists coming from a wide range of professions, among them
biologists, medical scientists, science theorists, psychologists,
philosophers and social scientists. Originally 30 members when the society
was started by Prof. Dr. habil techn. Jan Belenkij, the society has now
grown to a proud membership of 70 scientists.
Most of the members work is theoretical in
nature, based on research formerly concluded while still living and working
in the Soviet Union. But while the members lack opportunity and means to do
research in German labs, they have managed to make several interesting
discoveries and inventions since their imigration to Germany. Several
patents have been presented, among them one for a diamond drill and one for
an ozone generator.
The ozone generator received last year the bronze medal at the inventors
fair in Geneva. A filter for recycling water received the IENA 2000 silver
medal at the "Ideas-Invention-Innovation fair" in Nurnberg.
The span of research is wide, starting from
methods to economise electronic energy, improved disinfecting products for
medical use, works on Russian Homeopathy to computer assisted methods to
calculate the adequate way of construction in earthquake endangered zones.
In the past few years, the "scientific society" has organised around 40
seminars on different topics. But research is not the only aim of the group.
They also offer a social encounter for their members. They organise
excursions to points of scientific interest in the region and organise
gatherings for the Jewish Holidays. It is a regrettably though, that the
society, which was originally founded to integrate their members into the
wider German society, offers their talks and seminars in Russian and thus
builds up a language barrier for all the non Russian scientists that may be
interested in a professional exchange with the group.
Groups in Berlin