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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
Jews in Berlin



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