Cite: Levy, Trends in Jewish Identity in Israeli Society


Levy, Shlomit. "Trends in Jewish Identity in Israeli Society: Effects of Former Soviet Union Immigration." Contemporary Jewry 29,2 (2009): 153-168.


Abstract:  Trends in the Jewish identity of Israeli society are reviewed with special reference to the mass immigration from the former Soviet Union (FSU) that took place during the last decade of the 20th century. The analysis uses data from two comprehensive studies carried out in 1991 and 2000 by the Guttman Institute, and addresses three main issues: (1) changes over time in Jewish identity of veteran Israelis; (2) a comparative analysis of levels and structure of Jewish identity components of FSU immigrants and of veteran Israelis; and (3) the impact of FSU immigration on aspects of Jewish identity in Israel. The findings indicate that FSU immigrants are less observant than veteran Israelis, are less definitive in their Jewish identification, and attribute less importance than do veteran Israelis to Jewish identity components, whether historical, religious or cultural. However, both groups share a very similar ranking of identity components, headed by contemporary historical components and terminating with traditional-cultural components. Structural analysis of the interrelations among identity components revealed that while the Jewish identification of veteran Israelis is based primarily on heritage-traditional identity components, the Jewish identification of FSU immigrants is shaped primarily by historical components, the holocaust being the most salient. Hence the Jewish identity of FSU immigrants is of an ethnic-national character, while the Jewish identity of veteran Israelis leans toward Jewish heritage. Despite these differences, the overall impact of this immigration on Israeli society, as of the year 2000, has been rather small but systematic: a decline of about 5%–7% towards some less religious practices and lower Jewish identity and identification.




Keywords:  FSU immigrants, Israel: Society, Israel: Religion, Identity, Jewish Identity, Russian Immigrants, שלומית לוי

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