Cite: Raijman, South African Jews in Israel

Raijman, Rebeca. “Moving to the Homeland: South African Jews in Israel.” Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 11.3 (2013): 259-77.





This article focuses on Jewish South African immigrants migrating to Israel. It examines motives for migration, the ways by which migrants organized their move to the new country, and the types of resources (individual and institutional) on which they relied to make and implement their decision. Our study suggests that both push and pull factors explain South African Jewish migration to Israel. The unstable socioeconomic and political situation prevalent in South Africa was the main push factor explaining the desire to leave the country, whereas a strong Jewish and Zionist identity acted as a strong pull factor driving South African Jews to Israel. In addition, the existence of social networks and institutional frameworks linking the two countries helped perpetuate the migration over time. Two salient conceptual points emerge. First, theories that stress the economic aspects of migration alone are not helpful in explaining South African Jewish migration to Israel. We must also consider how ethnic identities related to the host society (e.g., their Jewish and Zionist identity) affect potential migrants’ decision making. Second, in order to understand the process of the migration of Jews to Israel, it is important to refer to the communal and social structures in the countries of origin and of destination.

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