About 330,000 of partial Jews and gentiles have moved to Israel after 1990 under the Law of Return. The article is based on interviews with middle-aged gentile spouses of Jewish immigrants, aiming to capture their perspective on integration and citizenship in the new homeland where they are ethnic minority. Slavic wives of Jewish men manifested greater malleability and adopted new lifestyles more readily than did Slavic husbands of Jewish women, particularly in relation to Israeli holidays and domestic customs. Most women considered formal conversion as a way to symbolically join the Jewish people, while no men pondered over this path to full Israeli citizenship. Women’s perceptions of the IDF and military service of their children were idealistic and patriotic, while men’s perceptions were more critical and pragmatic. We conclude that women have a higher stake at joining the mainstream due to their family commitments and matrilineal transmission of Jewishness to children. Men’s hegemony in the family and in the social hierarchy of citizenship attenuates their drive for cultural adaptation and enables rather critical stance toward Israeli society. Cultural politics of belonging, therefore, reflect the gendered norms of inclusion in the nation-state.
Research on the evolution of immigrant fertility patterns has focused on the expected reduction in fertility among immigrants from high fertility, less developed countries who arrive in relatively low-fertility developed societies. The current research considers a different context in which immigrants from the low-fertility Former Soviet Union arrive in a relatively high-fertility setting in Israel. This research context allows us to test various theories of immigrant fertility, which cannot normally be distinguished empirically. Results from Cox multivariate regressions of parity-specific progression do not support assimilation theory, which would predict an increase in fertility following migration, in this context. We interpret the very low fertility rates of the FSU immigrants in Israel, relative to all relevant comparison groups, in terms of the economic uncertainty and hardship experienced during a difficult transition period by immigrants who have high aspirations for social mobility in their destination society.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan became independent upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. Neither of these republics developed strong nationalist identities and it has been the task of their former communist leaders who are still in power to develop such identities while suppressing internal divisions. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have had a history of tolerance toward their respective Jewish populations, from which many have immigrated to Israel (and the United States) in recent years to unite with family or for economic reasons. Those republics view Israel Diaspora Jews as a source of investment and technological know-how as well as an avenue for better relations with the United States. Conversely, Israel, while considering Russian sensitivities in its relations with Central Asia, values the region as a market for Israeli products, a source for hydrocarbon resources and a way to counteract Iran as well as to seek a more favourable attitude in disputes with the Arabs.