Homecoming, Immigration, and the National Ethos: Russian-Jewish Homecomers Reading Zionism

By Lomsky-Feder, Edna; Rapoport, Tamar | Anthropological Quarterly, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Homecoming, Immigration, and the National Ethos: Russian-Jewish Homecomers Reading Zionism


Lomsky-Feder, Edna, Rapoport, Tamar, Anthropological Quarterly


For immigrants entering a society characterized by a strong national ethos of homecoming, the interpretation of that ethos is essential to their making sense of their new lives and reconstructing their identity. Our case study explores how immigrants interpret the Israeli national ethos while struggling over their position in the old-new homeland. Analyzing personal narratives of Russian-Jewish university students in Israeli society, we discuss how their multivocal critiques of the "national-Zionist ethos" reflect and fuel the heated and dividing discourse over national identity in Israeli society of the 1990s. We explain how the homecomers read the national ethos, confront it, and participate in the local cultural discourse by their dual position as outsiders-insiders in the new society, together with their experiences as a diasporic minority group in the native land. We suggest that the interaction between two cultural systems-the Diasporic heritage of the Jewish Russian homecomers and the Zionist ethos-broadens and elaborates the Israeli national discourse. [national ethos, homecoming, immigration, personal narrative, Israeli society]

The national ethos of the host society defines from the outset the placement of the new immigrants and their type of affiliation to it. Entering a new society, immigrants must become acquainted with the national ethos that lies at its heart, and learn to decipher the cultural discourse of the society. The necessity to read the new collective boundaries, the meaning of society's collective identity, as well as the nation's moral demands is embedded in the marginal position of immigrant. The reading of the ethos is essential to making sense of their new lives and re-constructing their identity. This is particularly the case of immigrants who enter a society characterized by a strong national ethos of homecoming, such as Israel.

As a Zionist immigrant society Israel encourages all Jews to return to their homeland. Jewish immigrants are never formally considered "foreigners," rather they are perceived as "family relatives" who return to their natural home. Thus citizenship is granted to them automatically under the Law of Return upon their coming to Israel. The "homecomers," in turn, are expected to be committed to the Israeli national ethos and to become integrated in the society, essentially becoming Israelis (Golden 1996; Leshem 1998). This expectation is conveyed by state-related institutions (education, media) and communicated in informal day-to-day encounters.

Jewish Russian1 university students who have immigrated to Israel have voiced the Israeli national ethos but in a very particular way. Listening to their personal narratives, we were amazed to hear their resistance to the ethos. Their critiques of it reflect and fuel the heated and divisive discourse over national identity in Israeli society of the 1990s. Like other groups, but with some of their own twists, the immigrants are contesting the once seemingly implacable and uniting national ethos, yet at the same time they do not undermine or reject it.

The immigrant-homecomers' engagement with and their critical stance towards the Zionist ethos provoked our curiosity about the relation between homecoming and immigration. More particularly, we explore the manner in which Jewish Russian immigrants interpret the Israeli national ethos: whether they adopt or reject it, ratify or confront it. Is their interpretation uniform or divergent? What is their relation to the ethos as the imagined home becomes an actual home, as the national homeland becomes a personal homeland?

In tackling issues of immigration-as-- homecoming, we problematize the link between immigration, national identity, and home. The study of national homecoming is of a particular interest as this type of immigration deconstructs the boundaries between outsider and insider, stranger and "family member," foreigner and indigene.

Homecoming, Immigration, and the National Ethos

The literature on the relationship between immigrants and national ethos refers primarily to immigrants living in the nations of others, in which they are considered outsiders from an ethnic and national standpoint. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Homecoming, Immigration, and the National Ethos: Russian-Jewish Homecomers Reading Zionism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.