The Great Immigration: Russian Jews in Israel

The Great Immigration: Russian Jews in Israel

The Great Immigration: Russian Jews in Israel

The Great Immigration: Russian Jews in Israel

Synopsis

More than 750,000 Russian Jews arrived in Israel between 1988 & 1996. This great immigration has gone largely unnoticed in Israeli public life. This book offers an in-depth analysis of the life of the new Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Excerpt

The immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union during the last decade has had a profound impact on Israeli society. The Great Immigration describes this transformation very aptly. the sheer numbers of immigrants, their diverse occupational qualifications and rich intellectual resources, their rapid integration into every sphere of social activities, their surprisingly successful political mobilisation -- all these have set Israel in a new direction. the Russian immigrants have been the first group to withstand the efforts of the state to absorb them culturally. Its bureaucratic agencies have been unable to tame and subdue the new citizens, to strip them of their native culture and mould them into standard Israelis. They have developed new economic enterprises, often in totally new fields, raised the standards in various branches of athletics and the arts, set up numerous cultural institutions such as orchestras, theatres and journals, and even Hebrew language courses. These activities have largely been conducted in Russian, but with the clear intent to make them accessible to the rest of the population. They brought about the rapid economic integration of newcomers; inevitably, these developments were accompanied by the immigrants' impatient complaints that the process was too slow and that the state should do more to help. the overall result was that, for the first time, Israel began to move towards greater cultural and ethnic pluralism.

This situation contrasts sharply with the usual practices of dealing with new immigrants to Israel. As a rule, upon arrival the new immigrants were immediately subjected to the first stage of absorption: they were received by officials who provided them with temporary accommodation, basic furniture and some cash. They were registered in a . . .

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