Russian Jews on Three Continents: Identity, Integration, and Conflict

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Transaction Publishers, Dec 31, 2011 - History - 408 pages
In the early 1990s, more than 1.6 million Jews from the former Soviet Union emigrated to Israel, the United States, Canada, Germany, and other Western countries. Larissa Remennick relates the saga of their encounter with the economic marketplaces, lifestyles, and everyday cultures of their new homelands, drawing on comparative sociological research among Russian-Jewish immigrants. Although citizens of Jewish origin ostensibly left the former Soviet Union to flee persecution and join their co-religionists, Israeli, North American, and German Jews were universally disappointed by the new arrivalsâ tenuous Jewish identity. In turn, Russian Jews, whose identity had been shaped by seventy years of secular education and assimilation into the Soviet mainstream, hoped to be accepted as ambitious and hard working individuals seeking better lives. These divergent expectations shaped lines of conflict between Russian-speaking Jews and the Jewish communities of the receiving countries. Since her own immigration to Israel from Moscow in 1991, Remennick has been both a participant and an observer of this saga. This is the first attempt to compare resettlement and integration experiences of a single ethnic community (former Soviet Jews) in various global destinations. It also analyzes their emerging transnational lifestyles. Written from an interdisciplinary perspective, this book opens new perspectives for a diverse readership, including sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, historians, Slavic scholars, and Jewish studies specialists.

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Page 37 - The start of the Soviet Jewish exodus to Israel was considered an historic opportunity to increase the Jewish population of Israel, build the nation and strengthen Israel's social fabric and cultural foundations. To forfeit such an opportunity by letting tens of thousands of Jews opt for other countries of migration would be unforgivable
Page 90 - Such core values are most clearly discerned when the group concerned is under threat and needs to defend its culture against external pressures. If the identity of a people is threatened with extinction, cultural life grows correspondingly more intense, more important, until culture itself, and especially its core elements, become the fundamental value around which people rally.
Page 90 - ... Indeed, the deviant individual may himself feel unable to continue as a member. Core values are singled out for special attention because they provide the indispensable link between the group's cultural and social systems; in their absence both systems would suffer eventual disintegration. Indeed, it is through core values that social groups can be identified as distinctive ethnic, religious, scientific or other cultural communities. Diverse examples of core values may be cited, and in this paper...
Page 376 - a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.
Page 148 - At the same time, the level of street anti-Semitism is much lower today than it was in the early postSoviet years, and institutional anti-Semitism has all but vanished, judging by the visibility of Jewish politicians and businessmen. Given that many immigrants still have dense social networks in large Russian cities, and thrive in the familiar language and culture, the idea of return is very appealing. After a number of shuttle visits, some olim may decide to stay there for good or, alternatively,...
Page 8 - Soviet/Russian halfJews, the share of those with Jewish fathers (who are not recognized as Jews in Orthodox Judaism) significantly exceeds those with Jewish mothers. Between 1988 and 1995, the percentage of children born to Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers, out of all children born to Jewish mothers, rose from 58 to 69 percent, and by the early 2000s has probably exceeded 80 percent.
Page 7 - Russia has dropped by 55 percent; about 42 percent of this decrease reflected negative vital balance (ie, excess of deaths over births) and 58 percent was due to emigration. In 1994, 63 percent of Jewish men and 44 percent of Jewish women in Russia were married to non-Jews, compared to 51 percent and 33 percent, respectively, in 1979. Among Ukrainian Jewry, the...
Page 170 - The new neighbors fell into a strained sort of intimacy like estranged cousins bound to one another by bloodlines in the distant past, related but uncomfortable. They had high expectations because each had nurtured idealized images of the other during the long struggle to "free Soviet Jewry.
Page 75 - SARUM 76 Global Modelling Project (London, HMSO, 1977). RETROSPECTIVE THE HISTORIAN AND THE FUTURE Asa Briggs Historians had to come to terms with the fact that there is no 'absolute' past, long before forecasters were pondering the benefits of the 'absolute
Page 33 - Jewish souls was reproduced later, after the inception of the mass Jewish exodus in 1989 (Dominitz, 1997). After the dead-zone period of the early 1980s, the first winds of change blew after Gorbachev declared his perestroika and glasnost plans in 1985-86, with the following renewal of the emigration movement in 1987-88. The refusniks and other Jews who had been morally prepared ("ripe," as a euphemism of the time went) to leave were the first ones to apply for the exit visas.

About the author (2011)

Larissa Remennick is professor of sociology and former chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at Bar-Ilan University. Her work has appeared in many professional journals, including Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Journal of International Migration and Integration, and International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

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