Following the demise of communism 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 she conducted over the last decade. Although former Soviets 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 and lack of interest in Jewish religious and community life. 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 on their own terms, 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, with optimal access to and cultural tools for the study of an ethnic diaspora. 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, spanning three continents and embracing multiple domains of physical and virtual activities. Earlier studies of Soviet-Jewish experience have been narrow, focusing on Russian/Soviet Jewry in its homeland, on Jewish migrations during the twentieth century generally, or else describing the lives of the immigrants in one specific host country. 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.
"Because of its comprehensiveness, 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 History "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." --Dmitri Shalin, Contemporary Sociology "This splendid book . . . is clearly written, informative, and addresses a range of fascinating migration, labor market, ethnic, and identity issues. It is highly recommended." --Alena Heitlinger, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online