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Russian Jews in America: The Latest Chapter Russian Jews in America: The Latest Chapter

Russian-Jewish Immigration to the United States History of Immigration • Started in the late Russian-Jewish Immigration to the United States History of Immigration • Started in the late 1960 s and early 1970 s • “Samoletnoe Delo” • Start of the Soviet Jewry movement • Documentary “Redeeming the Captives” • “Triumph over Tyranny” by Philip Spiegel

Russian-Jewish Immigration to the United States Facts and Figures • Today an estimate of Russian-Jewish Immigration to the United States Facts and Figures • Today an estimate of 350, 000 Russian-speaking immigrants live in New York • More than 50, 000 are in Boston area • About 750, 000 Russian-speaking immigrants live in the U. S. • Russian speakers make up 19 % of the Jews in the five boroughs of New York City [The Jewish Community Study 2002]. • About a third of the Russian-speaking Jewish population now living in America arrived during the 1970 s [ Election 2000 ].

Story of Success • Russian immigrants comprise the best-educated group in U. S. immigration Story of Success • Russian immigrants comprise the best-educated group in U. S. immigration history [Election 2000] Some 65% have college education and another 10% advanced degrees. 90% of high school graduates go to college. • Russian-speaking Jews have succeeded in the highest-paying professions as doctors, dentists, lawyers, and accountants. • A high level of overall satisfaction - 64% of those who live in America for 9 years or more are mostly satisfied with life [ Election, 2000, 23]

Annual Household Income of the Employed Population Annual Household Income of the Employed Population

A Global Community • Today, 25% of Russian-speaking Jews still have relatives in the A Global Community • Today, 25% of Russian-speaking Jews still have relatives in the Former Soviet Union • 61% of Russian-speaking Jews have firstdegree relatives in Israel and another 20% have relatives that are more distant. [Presidential Election 2004] • About 40% of them have relatives or close friends in Germany and 25% in Australia.

Identity Challenges • Heterogeneous community • Jewish identity does not mean religious identification or Identity Challenges • Heterogeneous community • Jewish identity does not mean religious identification or practice • Only 55% identify themselves as “definitely” Jewish with another 10% saying they are “partly” or “somewhat” Jewish. • Five basic categories of identification: - General Jewish - Sub-Ethnic Jewish - Immigrant identification - American identification - Cosmopolitan identification

Examples of Mixed Identities Percentage said they have mostly this identity Just Jewish 70% Examples of Mixed Identities Percentage said they have mostly this identity Just Jewish 70% Russian, Soviet Jew 50% Ukrainian Jew 22% Belarusian Jew 8% Bukharian Jew 8% Mountain Jew 7% Jew, New American 29% American of Jewish origin 14% American of Russian origin 9% American 16% Russian Immigrant 56% Russian 20%

Religious Challenges • Religion as a cultural, traditional, or philosophical concept • Many Russian Religious Challenges • Religion as a cultural, traditional, or philosophical concept • Many Russian Jews combine belief in God with low religious activity or practice • They are Jews through ethnicity, memory, culture, literature, etc. but not through religion • “In God We Trust” - belief as a philosophical concept – more than 70% - “believers”-faith in God has a sacred significance and place in his heart – 45% - “religion and morality”- believe that religion and morality go hand in hand -- 25% - “religious practice”- religion plays a very important role in their lives 15%

Religious Challenges • Reform and Conservative movements have achieved limited success in reaching out Religious Challenges • Reform and Conservative movements have achieved limited success in reaching out to the community • Jewish education for children remains a serious concern for many Russian-Jewish families. • There is growing synagogue attendance in areas heavily populated by Russian-Jewish immigrants • “detached affiliation”

Political Involvement, engagement, and ideology • Russian Jews are perceived as conservative and Republican Political Involvement, engagement, and ideology • Russian Jews are perceived as conservative and Republican • Republican candidates appeal strongly due to strong support for Israel and a tough position against terrorism • 2004 Elections supported G. W. Bush, 2008 Elections supported John Mc. Cain. President Reagan and the notion of “evil empire”. • Conservative on some social issues e. g. 77% in favor of the death penalty, 81 % are against same-sex marriage, but liberal on others, e. g. 66% think abortion should be legal under all circumstances • Anti-Semitism in Russia and the FSU countries remains a very serious concern -- 85%, and in Europe -- 83%

Registered Voters New York, 2000 New York, 2004 New York, 2008 Registered Voters New York, 2000 New York, 2004 New York, 2008

Voting Patterns 2000 -2008 New York, Aug-Sept 2000 New York Aug-Sept 2008 New York, Voting Patterns 2000 -2008 New York, Aug-Sept 2000 New York Aug-Sept 2008 New York, Aug-Sept 2004

Community Challenges • Activism, voluntarism, and charity were unfamiliar to many Russians. Whom we Community Challenges • Activism, voluntarism, and charity were unfamiliar to many Russians. Whom we trust? • Detached affiliation-establishing and maintaining a comfortable distance from major American-Jewish organizations and their activities

Community Challenges • “Clash of civilizations” between the American. Jewish establishment and the Russian-speaking Community Challenges • “Clash of civilizations” between the American. Jewish establishment and the Russian-speaking Jews • Russian Jews in America are perceived as indifferent to Jewish heritage and Jewish communal life • Protestantism versus Eastern Orthodoxy Russian Jews influenced by Russian culture, deeply rooted in Russian Orthodoxy, and the Soviet communist regime. • Fundamental cultural differences: Trust and Fear

“The Future Belongs to Me” • For how long the 1. 5 and the “The Future Belongs to Me” • For how long the 1. 5 and the second generations will keep their “Russian” identity component? • The global Russian-speaking community and its political implications • New developments between the Diasporas and the governments of Israel, Russia and other FSU countries.