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

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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 arrivals’ 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Remennick (Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel) charts the Jewish emigration from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and the issues it has raised in three main destinations: Israel, the US, and Europe. As the book's title suggests, the author seeks to explore the types of identities Soviet Jews have constructed as they adapt to their new homes. She also examines the tensions between desires to integrate and the rise of anti-semitic agitation, especially in Europe. Remmenick, herself a Jewish emigrant from the former Soviet Union, adopts a transnational approach to her subject. Using modern technology, FSU Jews have preserved aspects of their Russian heritage and culture across national borders, including economic and spiritual ties. This transnationalism has shaped the integration of these immigrants into their new homes, but provided them with broader sources of psychological and economic support than previous immigrant generations. While the themes of the book are familiar, the material provides valuable insight into the inner workings of FSU Jews and raises important questions for the nature of ethnic identity formation in the information age. Highly Recommended.”

—J. Haus, CHOICE

"Larissa Remennick's book successfully fills a gap in the study of the historically under-documented and sociologically under-examined global phenomenon of the Soviet Jews...Because of its comprehensive, comparative nature, and thorough selection and analysis of facts, data, and scholarship, Remennick's book is a serious and fresh contribution to the study of the historical phenomenon of the Russian Jews."

—Sam Kliger, American Jewish Committee, New York

“Based largely on the author's own comparative research in the four countries, the book presents an informative and comprehensive picture of various facets of this latest, and likely the last, wave of Russian Jewish immigration. Remennick's comparative analysis of intra-ethnic modes of integration and acculturation is greatly enhanced by her adoption of a transnational perspective. In turn, the framework of transnationalism leads the author to focus on several fascinating topics, such as the emergence of vibrant multi-centered global Russian Jewish diasporas, the formation of hybrid ethno-national identities, multilingualism, and the role the Internet and satellite TV in promoting a thriving Russian ethnic sub-culture. There is really nothing negative I can say about this splendid book. It is clearly written, informative, and addresses a range of fascinating migration, labour market, ethnic, and identity issues. It is highly recommended to all those who are interested in Jewish, Israeli, European (German and Russian), North American, and global studies.”

—Alena Heitlinger, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

"The author's considerable skills as an ethnographer help put a human face on the acculturation process and illuminate the impressive capacity for self-understanding (and self-deception) among Russian expatriates… Dr. Remennick wrote an important book that is certain to become standard reference for all those studying the immigration and adaption process, as well as a noteworthy addition to the ethnographic literature on selfhood, identity crisis, and self-actualization."

Contemporary Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412848886
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/13/2012
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgements xvii

Introduction-"Russian Jews on Three Continents": Ten Years Down the Road 1

1 Soviet Jewry and the Dilemma of Emigration 13

2 Newcomers in the Promised Land: Integration or Separatism? 53

3 Soviet Jews in the U.S.: Chasing the American Dream 169

4 "Being a Woman is Different Here": Changing Attitudes towards Femininity, Sexuality, and Gender Roles among Former Soviet Women Living in Greater Boston 245

5 Former Soviet Jews in Toronto, Canada 279

6 The Promised Land in the Heart of Europe: Identity and Social Incorporation among Former Soviet Jews in Germany 313

7 Lost Relatives or Strangers? Jews or Former Soviets? In Search of the Common Denominator 363

Glossary 381

Bibliography 391

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    A truly pioneering work and a must-read

    This work by Professor Remennick is a comprehensive and detailed overview of the immigration experience of Russian Jews in the United States, Israel, Canada, and other Western countries. Professor Zemennick, a Russian Jew herself, uses a highly engaging and insightful personal writing style to illustrate the multifaceted resettlement experiences of Jews from the former USSR and today's Russia. Because so few books are devoted to the important subject of Russian Jewish immigration experience, this work is especially valuable as the latest and most complete effort in the field.

    "Russian Jews on Three Continents" will appeal to both a general audience as well academic professionals who want to learn more about the recent history of Russian Jews in the United States. I also believe the book might be valuable to those with a general interest in the sociology of immigration. As a Russian Jew myself, I was also able to gain a greater insight into my own resettlement experience. Over the last few decades millions of Jews from Russia have enriched the populations of many countries around the globe, yet their personal stories have rarely been heard or documented. I cannot help but feel grateful to the author for bringing a much-needed light to this very important subject.

    Buy and read this book!

    -Alex Lipovsky

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